California plane crash leaves two dead and homes destroyed

A small plane has crashed in a densely populated suburb in San Diego, California, killing at least two people, including a UPS driver. At least two others were injured in the incident. Witnesses described an elderly couple being rescued from one of two homes that were destroyed in Santee, a largely residential suburb of 50,000 people.

At least three other homes sustained significant damage. Several vehicles, including a delivery truck, were also torched. “Not to be too graphic but it’s a pretty brutal scene,” Justin Matsushita, Santee’s deputy fire chief, said as firefighters searched the smouldering ruins.

Authorities did not identify the delivery truck company or say if anyone was inside, but United Parcel Service of America confirmed one of its workers died. “We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” the company said. “We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends.”

Fire crews at the scene

The condition of the two injured was not immediately known.

Jim Slaff told NBC 7 in San Diego that neighbours pulled his mother out of a window of her burning home and rescued his stepfather from the back garden. It appears their dog died. Mr Slaff said neighbours told him the couple were “obviously shaken up but doing OK” and were taken to UC San Diego Medical Centre.

“It’s a war zone. It’s not even a house,” Mr Slaff said after arriving at the scene. Andrew Pelloth, 30, was working from home when he heard a whirring and then a huge boom.

“My initial thought was that it was a meteorite coming down,” he said.

California plane crash leaves two dead and homes destroyedNeighbours watch fire crews near the scene of the crash in Santee

“I could hear it falling and then some kind of explosion.” Mr Pelloth saw a delivery truck engulfed in flames and his neighbour’s house directly across the street consumed by fire. His neighbour was standing on the pavement pleading for help to get her dog that she said had been inside the home.

Mangled ruins of vehicles were in the driveway. The woman and her husband were burned on their arms but were still able to walk and talk, Mr Pelloth said. No-one was home at the other residence that was destroyed, which sold only a month ago.

Mr Pelloth said he met the new owner on Monday as he arrived to see the damage.

California plane crash leaves two dead and homes destroyedA fire official looks over the scene of the crash

The plane was a twin-engine Cessna C340, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It was not immediately known where the flight originated or was headed, or how many people were on board. Mr Matsushita said anyone aboard could not have survived.

The crash happened about three streets from Santana High School in the city of about 50,000 residents. The school said on Twitter that “all students are secure”. The crash site is a few miles north of Gillespie Field, a small San Diego County airport.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

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