Three killed, two injured when small plane crashes into California home

LOS ANGELES — Three people were killed and two others are in critical condition after a small plane crashed into a California home on Monday, authorities said.

Two dwellings were destroyed when the plane went down in Riverside at about 4:45 p.m. (7:45 p.m. ET), Fire Chief Michael Moore said.

All of the victims had been flying in the aircraft, he said. Moore previously put the number of dead at four but later corrected the tally to three.

The plane, identified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Cessna 310, was flying five people to San Jose after a cheerleading competition, Moore said.

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An Argentine coast guard officer points to the remains of a Cessna 310 twin-engine plane that was carrying five passengers and crew when it crashed along the banks of a tributary of the Parana River some 40 kilometers (24 miles) north of Buenos Aires, July 7. The light plane was flying from the town of Tigre to Martin Garcia Island, carrying three schoolteachers and two pilots, and is believed to have crashed due to bad weather. All five occupants of the plane were killed in the crash. EM/RCS
Medical examiners remove a body from the wreckage of an airplane crash in Sanford, Florida July 10, 2007. A small plane attempting an emergency landing crashed killing at least five people and causing an intense fire, investigators said. One of the victims on the Cessna 310 that crashed, Dr. Bruce Kennedy, was the husband of Lesa France-Kennedy, president of the International Speedway Corporation. REUTERS/Rick Fowler (UNITED STATES)
NTSB inspectors look over debris and airplane parts, Wednesday, July 11, 2007, at the scene where a Cessna 310 crashed into two homes in the Preserve at Lake Monroe neighborhood in Sanford, Florida on Tuesday. (Photo by Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Cessna 310L, in flight.
APR 22 1954; Piano Auditions Set; Here Is The New Cessna Model 310, Being Shown At Stapleton Field.; (Photo By Dean Conger/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
NOV 17 1957; Latest in Business Aircraft, The Cessna 310-B, Flashes Over Aviation Co., where Bulk of Denver's Craft Base.; (Photo By Floyd H. McCall/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
CANADA - JULY 28: Cessna 310 Caledon. Pilot; Dean Eilers (Photo by Frank Calleja/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

He said two women aged in their mid-30s to early 40s were "ejected" as the plane crashed. Moore credited an "aggressive response" from firefighters for saving them.

One of the women was in surgery early Tuesday after suffering burns, Moore said. Firefighters would continue to search the residences for victims, although "we think we have accounted for all residents," he added.

The crash sounded like "two trains that headed into each other," local resident George Charles Ashley told NBC News.

"It was loud, shook the house like an earthquake," the 58-year-old added. "It was a big fireball."

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.

More from the scene of the crash:

The crash threw debris as far as half a mile away, set homes ablaze and sent thick, choking smoke billowing into the sky.

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."

She added: "There was no way it was able to pull up, the way it was dropping. 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."

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