2 dead, 2 injured when plane parts hit California house

2019-02-04 09:32
Firefighters suppress a fire at the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighbourhood of Yorba Linda. (Alex Gallardo, AP)

Firefighters suppress a fire at the scene of a deadly plane crash in the residential neighbourhood of Yorba Linda. (Alex Gallardo, AP)

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Two people died and two others were injured after a small plane apparently came apart, dropping parts that scattered across a Southern California neighbourhood and ignited a house fire before landing in a backyard, witnesses and authorities said on Sunday.

The crash shook the Yorba Linda neighbourhood about 14:00 after the twin-engine Cessna 414A took off from the Fullerton Municipal Airport about a 20km west of the blaze, Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Allen Kenitzer said.

The pilot was the only person in the twin-engine plane, though authorities have not determined who among the dead and injured were on board or on the ground.

A two-story house burst into flames after being struck by a plane part, sending panicked neighbours into the streets.

"It was a boom. It sounded like something exploded. It shook our house," said John Wolbart, who lives a block away.

Low rumbling

He said he ran to the burning house and saw a woman come out with singed hair.

The wounded were taken to a hospital with burn injuries, said Pokey Sanchez, an assistant chief with the Orange County Fire Authority. A firefighter was also treated for a minor injury.

Clint Langford, who lives about 800m away, said he was in his living room when he heard a low rumbling.

"It's the eerie, low rumbling sound that keeps getting lower and louder. It was scary," he said. "And then all of a sudden boom. It shook the house."

He looked out his front door and could see plane parts falling out the sky in the distance.

Pat Rogers, who lives about 1.6km from the crash site, told the Orange County Register he saw the plane on fire and coming apart.

Video posted on Twitter showed panicked residents running to the house as it became engulfed in flames and dark smoke. One man doused a burning wing that landed on the street with a garden hose.

Aerial footage taken from news helicopters show plane parts, including side panels and a propeller, scattered on rooftops and driveways near the burned house.

The main body of the twin-engine plane was found in the backyard of another home not far from the burned house. The fire spread to a SUV that was parked in the driveway.

Rain from a winter storm helped firefighters extinguish the house fire. They planned to search the burned house in case there were additional victims, Sanchez said.

The National Transportation and Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.

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