RIVERSIDE — Three people were killed and two were injured Monday when a plane nosedived into a Riverside neighborhood shortly after takeoff, destroying two houses and starting a fire that burned for hours.
At an evening news conference, Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore had said four people were dead, but late Monday night he clarified that three were killed, and said all had been on the airplane. No residents of the damaged homes were injured, he said.
The plane was carrying five people – a husband and wife and three teenagers – who had attended a weekend cheerleading competition at Disneyland, Moore said.
The Cessna 310 piloted by the wife had just taken off from Riverside Municipal Airport to return home to San Jose when, for reasons still unknown, it went down about 4:40 p.m. a mile east of the airport, setting several houses ablaze on Rhonda Road.
The impact felt like an earthquake, neighbors said, and sent up a “big orange ball of fire” that could be seen blocks away.
One of the injured victims was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton to undergo surgery and was in “very critical” condition Monday night, Moore said. That hospital has the closest burn unit, though Moore did not say that was why the victim was taken there.
The other survivor, described as a teen girl, suffered what Moore called “very minor injuries.” She was taken to Riverside Community Hospital.
“Upon impact, the plane pretty much split apart, and luckily she was ejected,” Moore said.
In addition to the two houses that were destroyed, other adjacent homes sustained moderate damage, Moore said.
During his 7:30 p.m. briefing, Moore said fire officials were concerned that more victims could be inside the houses. By 10 p.m., he said that all residents of the homes had been accounted for. Firefighters were still searching the homes just to be sure, however.
Because of the large amount of fuel released during the crash, the fire was still burning late Monday….