At least 2 dead in plane crash in California that burns houses | Ap

SANTEE, Calif. (AP) – A small plane crashed in a densely populated San Diego suburb on Monday, killing at least two people, including a UPS driver, and leaving a trail of destruction that prompted neighbors to scramble for help the neighbors. At least two others were injured.

Witnesses described a retired couple rescued from one of two destroyed homes in Santee, a largely residential suburb of 50,000 people. Ten other houses were damaged.

Several vehicles, including a delivery truck, were also set on fire.

“Not to be too graphic, but it’s a pretty brutal scene,” said Justin Matsushita, Santee’s deputy fire chief, as firefighters searched the smoldering ruins.

Authorities have not identified the delivery truck company or indicated if anyone was inside, but United Parcel Service of America Inc. has confirmed that one of its employees has died.

“We are sorry at the loss of our employee and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” the company said. “We also send our condolences to others involved in this incident, as well as to their families and friends.”

The condition of the two injured was not immediately known.

Michael Keeley 43, ran barefoot outside when his house shook. He saw the burning UPS truck and found two neighbors in a burning house calling through an open window.

With thick smoke inside the neighbors’ house and flames licking the roof, Keeley stood on a rock and reached out to grab the woman’s arm and help her out the window. Her forearms were burned and her hair was scorched.

“She kept saying, ‘My puppy, my puppy,’ Keeley said.

Moments later there were explosions inside the house. Neighbors destroyed fences to save the woman’s husband from the backyard.

“I’m glad I didn’t have to go in barefoot,” said Keeley, a probation officer.

Andrew Pelloth, 30, was working from home when he heard a purr and then a huge boom.

“My first thought was that it was a falling meteorite,” he said. “I could hear it fall, then some kind of explosion.”

Pelloth lives across from the retired couple and saw the house and delivery truck engulfed in flames. Ruins of mutilated vehicles lay in the couple’s driveway.

Erik Huppert, 57, rushed to the couple’s home after his house shook. He joined Pelloth in removing planks from the fence to save the husband, who was walking through the yard.

The woman and her husband were burned in their arms but were still able to walk and speak, Pelloth said.

“The two were definitely in shock, but at least they were alive,” said Huppert, a military contractor.

No one was at home in the other house that was destroyed, which was sold only a month ago. Pelloth said he met the new owner on Monday as he arrived to see the damage.

The aircraft was a twin-engine Cessna C340, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

It is believed to be a private plane flying from Yuma, Ariz., To the Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport in San Diego, Matsushita said. It was not known how many were on board, but Mastushita said no one would have survived.

The crash happened about three blocks from Santana High School, who said on Twitter that “all students are safe.”

The crash site is a few miles north of Gillespie Field, a small airport in San Diego County.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.


Associated Press editors Elliot Spagat in San Diego and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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