Debris still litters a California neighborhood where a military jet from Yuma crashed Wednesday afternoon.
Military officials told CBS 5 News nothing has been removed from the crash site. Pieces of the charred Harrier AV-8B jet remain in the street, in people's yards and even a nearby park.
The aircraft took off from the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma just after 4 p.m. The fighter jet went down 70 miles to the west in a row of houses in Imperial just north of El Centro.
Neighbors could be seen rushing from their homes with cell phones in hand capturing the chaos after the crash.
But before flames and black smoke filled the air, Jenna Middleton was in her backyard gardening when she heard the plane backfire.
"I look and the plane is coming straight and just completely nose dived down," said Middleton.
The jet hit with such force it left a crater several feet deep in the street. The explosion set fire to three houses.
One of the homes belonged to Marty Coyne. He said two of his elderly tenents had to be rescued from the burning home.
"They grabbed them, walked them through the smoke and the fire, and got them out," said Coyne.
Surveying the damage in the daylight, Coyne told CBS 5 News there wasn't much left of the fighter jet.
"There is a little bit of landing gear showing out of the hole. A piece of wing in the driveway," said Coyne.
In a briefing, military officials said it's still too early to know what caused the aircraft to go down. When asked if the pilot made any distress calls Colonel Chris McPhillips couldn't give an answer.
"Our primary concern is to make sure that the families involved in the mishap are taken care of and have everything they need to be comfortable today and in the coming days," said Colonel McPhillips.
The pilot ejected safely and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Daniel Urias, who lives nearby, grabbed his camera and began to record the aftermath.
"As soon as I saw that explosion, I ran out there and saw that no one was hurt," Urias said.
Viewer-submitted photos showed at least two homes on fire in an Imperial neighborhood.
MCAS Yuma is home to Marine Aircraft Group 13, part of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which includes three Harrier Squadrons – VMA -211, 311 and 214; Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 and an F-35B Lightning II squadron.
It is also home base for the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 and Marine Wing Support Squadron 371.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:11 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:11:15 GMT
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