(CNN) — Two people were killed in Monday’s crash of a military jet into a neighborhood in San Diego, California, Fire Department officials said.
The pilot safely ejected before the F/A-18 jet crashed into the neighborhood shortly before noon PT, the Marine Corps said in a news release.
Two homes were destroyed, said Maurice Luque of the San Diego Fire Department, according to CNN affiliate KGTV.
Details about who was killed weren’t immediately available. The pilot — the two-seat jet’s only occupant — was taken to a hospital, the Marine Corps said.
The crash happened as the jet was returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after performing landing training on a Navy aircraft carrier, the Marine Corps said in a news release. The cause of the crash is under investigation, it said.
The crash site is about two miles from the airfield, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.
Firefighters aimed jets of water from high-pressure hoses at the smoldering rubble of what appeared to be at least one house. Smoke continued to rise in clouds from the site nearly an hour after the crash.
Authorities cordoned off the area. Residents told reporters they had been informed by police that chemicals were in the air and they should stay away.
One resident interviewed by CNN affiliate KFMB said he saw a fighter jet at a very low altitude, and “it just spiraled, right out of ‘Top Gun.’ ”
The movie “Top Gun” was based on the Navy fighter pilot training program at the Miramar facility.
The resident said he saw a flier from the aircraft on the ground after parachuting from the plane. He said the pilot was dazed but able to move on his own.
Bank worker Scott Bloom told KGTV he was on his way to visit clients when he saw someone eject from the plane. He said the plane was silent in the moments before it went down.
“I thought I was dreaming,” Bloom told KGTV. “It was so surreal.”
The principal of a high school about three blocks from the crash site said students had just finished lunch when staffers heard “two large pops or two large booms.” The school and its students were not directly affected by the crash, but the school was put into lock-down mode for students’ safety, Principal Mike Price said.
The pilot was in communication with military air traffic controllers before the jet crashed, the FAA said.