RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CBSN) — Four people are dead and two are injured after a small plane crashed into two homes and sparked a huge fire in southern California, authorities say.
Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore says the plane’s occupants, a husband, wife and three teenagers, were returning to San Jose on Monday after a weekend cheerleading conference at Disneyland.
Moore says one of the teenagers, a girl, was thrown from the plane on impact and had only minor injuries. She was able to talk to firefighters about what had happened as she was taken to a hospital.
An unconscious victim from one of the homes is in surgery.
Four bodies have been found in the wreckage, but firefighters have not sorted out exactly how many were from the plane and how many from the homes. They are looking for additional possible victims in the wreckage.
The two homes were destroyed, and there was minor damage to some neighboring homes.
“Firefighters are doing everything they can,” Reynolds says early Monday evening, CBS Los Angeles reports. “They’re going inside the involved structure. We have it surrounded on all four sides, along with firefighters on the roof cutting holes to get the smoke out of the structure.”
The Cessna 310 aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Riverside Municipal Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration says. The plane was headed for San Jose when it crashed about a half-mile northeast of the Riverside airport, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says.
The plane came down into a residential neighborhood and collided with two homes, Riverside Police Lt. Charles Payne says. Video from news helicopters showed at least one of the homes appeared to be completely destroyed, engulfed in flames and littered with debris from the small plane near the intersection of Central and Streeter Avenues. The plane’s propeller appeared to be left sitting on the roof of a nearby home.
A neighbor named Ernesto who saw the explosion says he rushed to the scene and assisted in rescuing the pilot.
“It was a girl, it was a lady,” Ernesto says. “She was speaking. She said there was three others on the plane… we looked inside and couldn’t see anything, the plane was just gone.”
“She was able to talk, she was able to walk,” he adds.
Shannon Flores, a teacher at an elementary school about three blocks away, says she saw the plane out her classroom window shortly before 5 p.m. She said it was raining during the crash.
H.L. Reyes, who lives about a quarter-mile from the crash site, says she felt the ground shake and saw plumes of black smoke.
“I thought it was a possible earthquake, and we heard all the birds just suddenly react outside, too,” Reyes says. “Every time an engine sputters, I’m afraid … This was just like a nightmare coming true.”
Residents of nearby homes were evacuated from the area and taken to a local community center, Police Lt. Payne says. He could not immediately provide any information about any possible injuries.
A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.