LOS ANGELES — Four people were killed and as many as five others remained unaccounted for after a small plane carrying five people crashed into a home Monday in Riverside, California, authorities said.
At least two other people were being treated at Riverside hospitals, Fire Chief Michael Moore said at a news conference Monday night. Two homes were destroyed, and crews were still looking for three to five people who were missing, he said.
The plane — identified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Cessna 310 — was carrying a San Jose couple and their three teenage children home after a cheerleading competition when it crashed at about 4:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m. ET), Moore said.
Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA, told NBC News that the plane went down about a half-mile northeast of Riverside Municipal Airport, which is about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The crash threw debris as far as half a mile away, set homes ablaze and sent thick, choking smoke billowing into the sky.
The plane’s fuel tank was full, Moore said, and the fire was still burning at 11 p.m. ET. The entire block of the residential neighborhood — as many as 40 houses — was being evacuated, he said.
“This is just a sad case,” Moore said. “We hope the best.”
Elizabeth Espinoza, 20, who lives near the scene, told NBC News: “I was just looking outside my window and saw a green plane, and it was going really fast, and then it fell to the ground and exploded,”
“There was no way it was able to pull up, the way it was dropping,” Espinoza said. "It was like — I don’t know how to describe it — just so fast that you wouldn’t imagine. It was a big crash and then a boom. …
“We felt the ground shake once it hit,” she said