A damaged house is seen at the scene of a U.S. military jet crash in Imperial, California
A damaged house is seen at the scene of a U.S. military jet crash in Imperial, CaliforniaReuters

A US military jet crashed straight into homes in a Southern California Desert town on Wednesday, media officials and local media have said.

The small aircraft, said to be an AV-8B Harrier jet from the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona, crashed at about 4:20 pm local time in Imperial, California – about 90 miles (144km) east of San Diego.

Television footages showed at least one home on fire on the town's residential town, following the crash on Wednesday evening.

The pilot ejected safely and was transported to a local hospital.

Civilian homes were impacted and damage assessments are being conducted, according to a Marine Corps statement.

"Injuries to civilians in the area are unknown at this time. Local authorities are on the scene," it said adding, "An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the crash."

"I heard a large explosion, and it felt like an earthquake," Patricia Roblas, a resident near the crash site, told NBC 7 San Diego.

"It was really scary. After they put the fires out, a few minutes later, we saw another huge fire so we didn't know if there was an explosion because of gas or what."

Another witness, Jose Santos was quoted by BBC as saying that he was driving nearby when he saw the plane flying "really low."

"It just fell down," he said.

The channel also quoted local resident Adriana Ramos, 45, as saying her house shook when the airplane crashed.

"It felt like a bomb was thrown in the backyard," she said. "The whole house moved."

Imperial is a city of only about 16,000 people, located not far from San Diego and only a few miles from the US- Mexico border.

In a similar incident in May, a AV-8B harrier stationed at the same Yuma airbase crashed in a remote desert area located on the Gila River Indian Community near Phoenix. The pilot of the aircraft had suffered only a minor injury to his nose, while no members of the community were hurt.

In 2008, another US military jet crashed into a residential area of San Diego killing four people. In this incident too, the pilot ejected before the aircraft crashed.