After departing from Santa Monica Airport, the pilot of the single-engine plane declared an emergency for unknown reasons around 6:10 p.m., according to a Federal Aviation Administration Western-Pacific Region official.
The plane was heading back to the airport when it crashed about 2 to 3 miles away in the 2100 block of Glendon Avenue.
Los Angeles City Fire officials said one person on board the aircraft was killed. It was not immediately known how many people were on the plane.
No injuries were reported. The residence was not damaged, nor were any other structures. A tall tree could be seen with its canopy burned.
Several eyewitnesses watched as the plane came down, and cellphone video was taken moments after the crash as the plane turned into a giant fireball.
"It sounded like, almost, not a bomb but almost like a large gunshot, it was like a slam," said witness Amanda Zalameda.
Luis Martin Del Campo, who also witnessed the crash, hailed the pilot.
"He's a hero in my eyes, and I hope that everyone else can recognize that because if not, I could have gotten hurt, everybody else could have gone hurt."
The plane is reportedly registered to a Santa Monica resident. Neither the pilot nor the make or model of the plane has been identified, although there were reports that the plane was a single-engine Cessna 210.
The cause of the crash was under investigation bythe Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.