1 dead, 5 injured after plane hits houses in California

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — One person was killed and five were injured when a small plane crashed into two homes Monday evening in Riverside shortly after taking off from a nearby airport, leaving fiery wreckage that nearly destroyed one of the homes, officials said.

Four people were aboard the plane, and two of the victims were pulled from one of the burning homes, Riverside Fire Department Capt. Tyler Reynolds said. It was not immediately clear whether the dead person was from the plane or one of the homes.

The Cessna 310 aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Riverside Municipal Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said. The plane was headed for San Jose when it crashed about a half-mile northeast of the Riverside airport.

The plane came down into a residential neighborhood and collided with two homes, Riverside Police Lt. Charles Payne said.

At least one of the homes was engulfed in flames and nearly destroyed. The plane’s propeller appeared to be left sitting on the roof of a nearby home.

Three witnesses told TV stations that a woman crawled from one of the houses with her clothes on fire, saying as neighbors helped her that she was the pilot and that more people were inside.

Shannon Flores, a teacher at an elementary school about three blocks away, said she saw the plane out her classroom window shortly before 5 p.m. She said it was raining during the crash.

“As soon as we saw it fly over, we knew it wasn’t a good thing,” Flores told KABC-TV. “We watched it go down very quickly …. Before we knew it, there was a loud crash and huge plumes of smoke.”

H.L. Reyes, who lives about a quarter-mile from the crash site, said 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 said. “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, Payne said.

Firefighters were still putting out hotspots from the ferocious fire nearly two hours after the crash.

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