A Sunday evening Super Bowl party turned into a horrific tragedy when a private airplane broke apart in the air, scattering flaming debris over a Yorba Linda, California neighborhood and triggering a house fire that killed four people in addition to the airplane’s pilot.
The main cabin and one engine of the twin-engine Cessna airplane crashed through the roof of the suburban Yorba Linda home and burst into flames that immediately enveloped the house. The people inside the home were only identified as two males and two females as of Monday afternoon.
The pilot and sole occupant of the 1981 Cessna 414A airplane was also killed, a representative of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department told reporters.
Witnesses said that they saw other people escaping the burning home, screaming for others that they couldn’t find. According to the Associated Press, the Orange County Fire Authority said at least two people were taken to the hospital with burn injuries.
The airplane took off from Fullerton Municipal Airport about 10 miles west of the crash site. It reached an altitude of about 700 feet when it started to descend, making what some neighbors described as a shrill sound, followed by a loud roar and explosion. One neighbor said he saw the plane blow up at an altitude of about 100 feet, NPR reported.
Witnesses also told ABC 7 News they saw pieces of the airplane falling from the sky before the main part of the airplane hit the house at 19941 Crestknoll Dr. The debris field from the airplane crash covered about four blocks, with pieces of the burning aircraft hitting other homes and cars.
A video shared on Twitter shows a man trying to extinguish part of the airplane on fire in the street with a garden hose. The airplane’s second engine landed in the street, leaving an impact crater.
— Joshua Nelson (@JoshuaRNelson) February 3, 2019
The Orange County Fire Authority said it responded to two structure fires in connection with the airplane crash. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team of investigators to the crash site to launch a probe.