Plane crashes near San Diego area high school as witnesses report large plumes of smoke

An air traffic controller ordered a twin-engine aircraft to gain altitude shortly before crashing into two houses and a UPS truck in a residential area north of San Diego on Monday lunchtime.

The explosion which resulted in a massive fireball killed at least two people including the driver and injured two others, sending them the hospital. The extent of their injuries is not clear, though local reports indicate they suffered burns.

The aircraft came down close to the grounds of Santana High School in Santee according to Fox 5 San Diego.  

It wasn’t immediately known whether the other victims were on the ground or on board the twin-engine Cessna 340A that went down just after midday in suburban Santee, about 20 miles northeast of downtown San Diego but recordings from air traffic control hear the controller desperately pleading for the pilot to increase altitude in the final moments before the crash. 

‘Low altitude alert! Climb immediately!’ the controller advised. The pilot responded but did not appear to be in distress, even agreeing to the request to climb. 

In the moments after the plane crash, shocked neighbors look on as flames consume the houses while one grabs a garden hose in a futile effort to contain the blaze

In the moments after the plane crash, shocked neighbors look on as flames consume the houses while one grabs a garden hose in a futile effort to contain the blaze

In the moments after the plane crash, shocked neighbors look on as flames consume the houses while one grabs a garden hose in a futile effort to contain the blaze

Footage from a doorbell camera caught the moment the plane, seen in the trop right hand corner, came down and smashed into the ground

Footage from a doorbell camera caught the moment the plane, seen in the trop right hand corner, came down and smashed into the ground

Footage from a doorbell camera caught the moment the plane, seen in the trop right hand corner, came down and smashed into the ground

Soon after impact, smoke began rising from the area where the plane crashed, destroying two houses

Soon after impact, smoke began rising from the area where the plane crashed, destroying two houses

Soon after impact, smoke began rising from the area where the plane crashed, destroying two houses

Soon after impact, smoke began rising from the area where the plane crashed, destroying two houses

Soon after impact, smoke began rising from the area where the plane crashed, destroying two houses 

The charred remains of two burnt out houses can be seen from the air together with the remains of a UPS truck, far left

The charred remains of two burnt out houses can be seen from the air together with the remains of a UPS truck, far left

The charred remains of two burnt out houses can be seen from the air together with the remains of a UPS truck, far left 

Firefighters respond to the scene of a plane crash in a residential neighborhood in Santee, a suburb some 20 miles northeast of San Diego, California

Firefighters respond to the scene of a plane crash in a residential neighborhood in Santee, a suburb some 20 miles northeast of San Diego, California

Firefighters respond to the scene of a plane crash in a residential neighborhood in Santee, a suburb some 20 miles northeast of San Diego, California

The football field at Santana High School, top, sits near where emergency crews work at the scene of a small plane crash

The football field at Santana High School, top, sits near where emergency crews work at the scene of a small plane crash

The football field at Santana High School, top, sits near where emergency crews work at the scene of a small plane crash

Emergency crews work a the scene of a small plane crash on Monday afternoon which completely destroyed two homes

Emergency crews work a the scene of a small plane crash on Monday afternoon which completely destroyed two homes

Emergency crews work a the scene of a small plane crash on Monday afternoon which completely destroyed two homes

A burned out truck sits at the scene of a plane crash in a San Diego neighborhood on Monday

A burned out truck sits at the scene of a plane crash in a San Diego neighborhood on Monday

A burned out truck sits at the scene of a plane crash in a San Diego neighborhood on Monday 

Air traffic control’s final radio communications 

ATC: Descend 2,800 until established on the localizer for runway 23R.

ATC: Look’s like you’re drifting right off course, are you correcting?

22G: Correcting 2-2-Golf. Cleared for the ILS 28R?

ATC: You’re not even tracked on the localizer. Climb to 3,000- minimum altitude alert, climb 3,800.

ATC: Climb and maintain 3,800

22G: Roger

ATC: Turn right heading 090, climb immediately, maintain 4,000.

22G: 4,000, climb immediately 2-2-Golf.

ATC: Looks like you’re descending sir. Need to make sure you’re climbing, not descending.

22G: Golf is climbing.

ATC: 22G say altitude.

22G: 2,500. 2-2-Golf.

ATC: Low altitude alert! Climb immediately! Climb the airplane. Maintain 5,000. Expedite climb. Climb the airplane please.

ATC: 2-2-Golf just level out the heading and climb the airplane up to 5,000 when you can please sir.  

                                                                           Source: liveatc.net 

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Authorities began receiving reports of a crash at 12:30pm. The plane is believed to have come down at around 12:15pm.

The plane, which had flown from Yuma, Arizona was on course for Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, six miles north of downtown San Diego when it suddenly veered of course and rapidly lost height. 

The aircraft was lining up for final approach when the pilot appeared to suddenly lose control. 

The Federal Aviation Administration said it did not know how many people were on board the aircraft.  

On the ground  it was a scene of carnage straight out of a disaster movie as the blaze destroyed two homes and a delivery truck that was making its rounds. 

Shocked neighbors found they could do little to help but wait for the emergency services to arrive. One well-intentioned resident could be seen trying to douse the flames with a garden hose, but it was little use. 

Santee Fire Chief John Garlow said one home was ‘well involved’ by flames, and a second home also caught fire. 

‘Not to be too graphic but it’s a pretty brutal scene,’ Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita added. 

A UPS vehicle also burned, he said. Firefighters managed to put out the blaze before any other properties were damaged. 

‘We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,’ a statement from UPS said. 

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

The crash happened about three blocks from Santana High School in the city of about 50,000 residents. The school said on Twitter that ‘all students are secure.’

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

The injured were evacuated from the scene by Santee Fire Department near Jeremy and Greencastle Street in Santee.

TV news footage about an hour after the crash showed the fire extinguished and two houses and the truck still smoldering and gutted by flames.  

Two homes were destroyed and a third suffered damage after a twin-engine Cessna crashed into the area, according to authorities

Two homes were destroyed and a third suffered damage after a twin-engine Cessna crashed into the area, according to authorities

Two homes were destroyed and a third suffered damage after a twin-engine Cessna crashed into the area, according to authorities

The plane crashed close to Santana High School a short distance away from Gillespie Field Airport

The plane crashed close to Santana High School a short distance away from Gillespie Field Airport

The plane crashed close to Santana High School a short distance away from Gillespie Field Airport

The flight was on course for Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, six miles north of downtown San Diego when it suddenly veered of course and rapidly lost height

The flight was on course for Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, six miles north of downtown San Diego when it suddenly veered of course and rapidly lost height

The flight was on course for Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, six miles north of downtown San Diego when it suddenly veered of course and rapidly lost height

Fire crews work the scene of a small plane crash in Santee. At least two people were killed and two others were injured when the plane crashed into a suburban Southern California neighborhood, setting two homes ablaze

Fire crews work the scene of a small plane crash in Santee. At least two people were killed and two others were injured when the plane crashed into a suburban Southern California neighborhood, setting two homes ablaze

Fire crews work the scene of a small plane crash in Santee. At least two people were killed and two others were injured when the plane crashed into a suburban Southern California neighborhood, setting two homes ablaze

The charred remains of houses and burnt out cars can be seen on the ground in Santee following a plane crash

The charred remains of houses and burnt out cars can be seen on the ground in Santee following a plane crash

The charred remains of houses and burnt out cars can be seen on the ground in Santee following a plane crash

Very little remains of one of the homes in Santee near San Diego while at least half of a second home is badly damaged

Very little remains of one of the homes in Santee near San Diego while at least half of a second home is badly damaged

Very little remains of one of the homes in Santee near San Diego while at least half of a second home is badly damaged

A neighbor watches in horror as fire crews deal with the scene of a small plane crash on Monday lunchtime

A neighbor watches in horror as fire crews deal with the scene of a small plane crash on Monday lunchtime

A neighbor watches in horror as fire crews deal with the scene of a small plane crash on Monday lunchtime

Jim Slaff told NBC 7 in San Diego that neighbors pulled his mother out of a window of her burning home and rescued his stepfather from the backyard. It appears their dog died.

Slaff said neighbors told him the couple was ‘obviously shaken up but doing OK’ and taken to UC San Diego Medical Center. ‘It´s a war zone. It´s not even a house,’ Slaff said after arriving at the scene. 

Witnesses posted images on social media showing plumes of smoke rising above Santana High School in Santee. 

‘I don’t know the extent of their injuries. I do know from talking to some of the neighbors that it was more bumps and bruises,’ a man told Fox 5 of neighbors who escaped. 

 ‘I think they were lucky they were in the back of the house when it happened because it came in the front. Michael, the neighbor, pulled my mom out of the back window and my stepdad was in the backyard so they broke down the fence to get him out.’ 

Fire and safety crews work the scene of a plane crash in Santee, California. At least two people were killed and two others were injured when the small plane crashed into a suburban Southern California neighborhood, setting two homes ablaze

Fire and safety crews work the scene of a plane crash in Santee, California. At least two people were killed and two others were injured when the small plane crashed into a suburban Southern California neighborhood, setting two homes ablaze

Fire and safety crews work the scene of a plane crash in Santee, California. At least two people were killed and two others were injured when the small plane crashed into a suburban Southern California neighborhood, setting two homes ablaze

Smoke billows after a plane crash in Santee, California on Monday lunchtime

Smoke billows after a plane crash in Santee, California on Monday lunchtime

Smoke billows after a plane crash in Santee, California on Monday lunchtime

Crews had to don face masks and wear oxygen tanks in order to deal with the blaze

Crews had to don face masks and wear oxygen tanks in order to deal with the blaze

Crews had to don face masks and wear oxygen tanks in order to deal with the blaze

A fire official looks over the scene of a small plane crash as the scene still smoulders

A fire official looks over the scene of a small plane crash as the scene still smoulders

A fire official looks over the scene of a small plane crash as the scene still smoulders

Thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the sky in the area close to where the aircraft came down

Thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the sky in the area close to where the aircraft came down

Thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the sky in the area close to where the aircraft came down

Local residents were transfixed by the sight of smoke billowing into the air

Local residents were transfixed by the sight of smoke billowing into the air

Local residents were transfixed by the sight of smoke billowing into the air 








The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said that the crash took place on the 9900 block of North Magnolia Avenue. The school’s address is 9915 North Magnolia Avenue.  

The school, which is part of Grossmont Union High School District, is just north of the airport at Gillespie Field.

Its official Twitter account reported that its students were ‘secure’ following the crash. 

The sheriff’s department is asking locals to avoid the area so that first responders can secure the scene.  

Bewildered neighbors watch fire crews work near the scene of a small plane crash

Bewildered neighbors watch fire crews work near the scene of a small plane crash

Bewildered neighbors watch fire crews work near the scene of a small plane crash

Two people react at the scene of a plane crash during the hours following the accident

Two people react at the scene of a plane crash during the hours following the accident

Two people react at the scene of a plane crash during the hours following the accident 

People watch emergency crews from the roof of a home at the scene of a plane crash in Santee

People watch emergency crews from the roof of a home at the scene of a plane crash in Santee

People watch emergency crews from the roof of a home at the scene of a plane crash in Santee

Firefighters in the San Diego suburb of Santee, California are at the scene of a small plane crash near a high school on Monday

Firefighters in the San Diego suburb of Santee, California are at the scene of a small plane crash near a high school on Monday

Firefighters in the San Diego suburb of Santee, California are at the scene of a small plane crash near a high school on Monday

At least two people were rushed to hospital with injuries. The injured were evacuated from the scene by Santee Fire Department personnel near Jeremy and Greencastle Street in Santee

At least two people were rushed to hospital with injuries. The injured were evacuated from the scene by Santee Fire Department personnel near Jeremy and Greencastle Street in Santee

At least two people were rushed to hospital with injuries. The injured were evacuated from the scene by Santee Fire Department personnel near Jeremy and Greencastle Street in Santee

Witnesses posted images on social media showing plumes of smoke rising above Santana High School in Santee

Witnesses posted images on social media showing plumes of smoke rising above Santana High School in Santee

Witnesses posted images on social media showing plumes of smoke rising above Santana High School in Santee

The San Diego Sheriff's Department said that the crash took place on the 9900 block of North Magnolia Avenue. The school's address is 9915 North Magnolia Avenue

The San Diego Sheriff's Department said that the crash took place on the 9900 block of North Magnolia Avenue. The school's address is 9915 North Magnolia Avenue

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said that the crash took place on the 9900 block of North Magnolia Avenue. The school’s address is 9915 North Magnolia Avenue

Firefighters managed to douse the blaze before it could cause damage to other homes in the surrounding area

Firefighters managed to douse the blaze before it could cause damage to other homes in the surrounding area

Firefighters managed to douse the blaze before it could cause damage to other homes in the surrounding area

The image above is a file photo of Santana High School, just a few blocks from where the plane crashed on Monday afternoon

The image above is a file photo of Santana High School, just a few blocks from where the plane crashed on Monday afternoon

The image above is a file photo of Santana High School, just a few blocks from where the plane crashed on Monday afternoon

The school, which is part of Grossmont Union High School District, also is just north of the airport at Gillespie Field. Its official Twitter account reported that its students were 'secure' following the crash, which took place about '2 or 3 blocks away.'

The school, which is part of Grossmont Union High School District, also is just north of the airport at Gillespie Field. Its official Twitter account reported that its students were 'secure' following the crash, which took place about '2 or 3 blocks away.'

The school, which is part of Grossmont Union High School District, also is just north of the airport at Gillespie Field. Its official Twitter account reported that its students were ‘secure’ following the crash, which took place about ‘2 or 3 blocks away.’

The above image is a file photo of a Cessna 340 of the type which crashed on Monday near San Diego

The above image is a file photo of a Cessna 340 of the type which crashed on Monday near San Diego

The above image is a file photo of a Cessna 340 of the type which crashed on Monday near San Diego

Just before 1pm local time, school officials tweeted: ‘We have been given the OK by @SDSOSantee to come out of ‘Secure Campus.’ 

‘We are now out of a ‘Secure Campus’… Students are being released for lunch or dismissal, if they do not have any other classes today.’

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