"It was just explosions," Wilson said. "It felt like an earthquake -- street exploded, burst into flame. Ran out and tripped and fell and just brought out the hoses and started putting it [out]. Thought it was a car at first, then we looked around and saw it was a plane wing on the ground."
Resident Ed Costa said he heard a loud boom and ran outside after returning home from a supermarket.
"When I first heard the noise, I thought it was a gunshot," said Costa, 54, who lives about two blocks from the crash site.
"I could see black smoke going up. Then we heard a secondary blast. Flames were shooting as high as the light pole," Costa said.
Costa's son Dean felt the house vibrate. He made his way close to the crash site and saw two houses on fire and several cars explode.
"It was just crazy," said Dean Costa, 22. "There was debris everywhere."
Bruce Welsh, who lives in Clairemont, was looking at the aircraft before he headed to MCAS Miramar. The plane was going against the normal east-to-west landing pattern, Welsh said, with the wind at its back.
"It sounded like he was revving hard, and then he just disappeared through the clouds," Welsh said.
Welsh then made his way to the crash site.
“I saw the big indentations in the street where he had leveled that first house,” said Welsh. "It’s lucky the plane went down as straight as it did because many, many more houses could have been impacted."
Amazingly, the pilot suffered only moderate injuries, and, so, far, firefighters have yet to locate any victims on the ground. See photos and learn more about the pilot.