One Dead in Small-Plane Crash in West LA

Investigators say it may take months to find probable cause to explain why the plane went down

Authorities have said a small fixed-wing aircraft crashed in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles on Friday evening, and one person had died.

The victim's age and gender were not immediately known, fire officials said. No other victims have been discovered.

The pilot of the single-engine Cessna 210 declared an emergency around 6:10 p.m., after departing Santa Monica airport, which is about 3 miles southwest from the site of the crash, according to Ian Gregor, with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane "flew around for an unknown period of time, and was coming back to land when the accident occurred," Gregor said.

It was not immediately known why the pilot signaled an emergency. The plane is registered to a Santa Monica resident, Gregor said.

Aerial video showed smoke rising from the scene and a burning palm tree in a residential neighborhood in West Los Angeles, about 1 mile southeast of UCLA. The plane appeared to crash near homes but no structures were involved in the crash, officials said.

"He said look up, there’s a small plane, it’s gonna crash," said Amanda Zalameda, witness. "There was that white, small plane heading straight, fast, and into the trees."

Photos: Plane Crashes Near Homes in West LA

A blackened, broken-apart plane appeared in the roadway, and ground video showed a scene cordoned off with yellow tape and dozens of fire and police officials.

"The plane is pretty well destroyed," said Assistant Chief Andy Fox, with LA Fire Department. "There are some remnants of a wing, some remnants of a nose section."

The exterior gate or wall around the yard of a home appeared to have burned, aerial video showed.

Los Angeles firefighters were on the scene spraying down the wreckage, which appeared to be partly in an intersection.

An alert sent out by the Los Angeles Fire Department at 6:18 p.m. gave the address as 2111 Glendon Avenue (map).

A man who said he lived less than a block from the scene spoke on air during the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. via phone.

"I saw a small plane go right overhead. It literally clipped the power lines right behind myself. Instantly, I heard it hit the ground and there was smoke. We ran over there … the plane was already engulfed in flames, the tree was on fire," said the neighbor, who gave his name as Matthew.

He added that there was "high air traffic" in the area going into Santa Monica Airport.

"They usually go in that direction, but obviously never that low," Matthew said.

Investigators say it may take months to find probable cause to explain why the plane went down.

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