3 dead in California plane crash

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Three people were killed and two were injured Monday when a small plane crashed into a residential neighborhood in Riverside, California, authorities said.

The Cessna 310 crashed about a half-mile northeast of the Riverside Municipal Airport, according to Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman. It had departed from Riverside en route to San Jose.

Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore said the plane, which had five people on board, split apart when it hit two homes, which reportedly had residents.

Investigators were still searching for three to five people at the wreckage site, which continued to burn hours after the crash.

One passenger, a teenager was ejected from the plane, Moore said. She was being treated at the Riverside Community Hospital for minor injuries.

Firefighters also pulled an unconscious, female resident from the scene. She was in surgery at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton and remains in critical condition.

Of the four fatalities, "to the best of our knowledge, one person on the ground is dead," Moore said.

The passengers on the plane appeared to be a family, who had been in Southern California for a cheerleading competition at Disneyland, and were heading back to San Jose, he said.

A man, woman and three teenagers were aboard the plane.

"It's horrible, coupled together that they were going to a cheer competition," Moore said. "This is supposedly a happy time and then just to have a tragic incident like this, and into one of these Riverside residence, it's really a sad case for us."

Investigation pending

The block was evacuated, sending residents from about 20 homes to a shelter.

The aircraft had a full tank of fuel, causing the fire to continue burning. Investigators also want to assess the neighborhood in case of dropped plane parts, as debris scattered in the impact.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to take over the investigation.

The crash occurred around 4:41 p.m. PT (7:41 p.m. ET) on Central and Streeter avenues, Lt. Charles Payne of the Riverside City Police Department said.

Traci Zamora, who lives in the neighborhood, heard the crash.

"I was inside the house and it shook our whole house like an earthquake," she told CNN over Facebook. "It is all so surreal."

She said her family had seen an older man and a younger family who lived in the the two affected houses.

Another resident, Chloe Hirohata told CNN in an email, "I heard an explosion, witnessed a large plume of smoke coming from the scene and rushed over."

Riverside is about 54 miles southeast of Los Angeles.