LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three people were killed and two critically injured when their light aircraft crashed into a house on Monday, causing several fires in a residential neighborhood in southern California, the local fire chief said.

The Cessna 310 crashed at about 4:30 p.m. (0030 GMT Tuesday) shortly after take-off from Riverside Municipal Airport, 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.

The pilot and two passengers died. The two survivors, both women, were found inside the ruined house in critical condition, Riverside Fire Chief Michael Moore said. The house was unoccupied.

TV images of the scene showed firefighters spraying water on several houses ablaze and covering what appeared to be a body with a sheet. At least five families were forced to leave their homes, a local Red Cross official said.

The passengers were from San Jose in Northern California and in the area for a cheerleading event at Disneyland, Moore said.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the plane crashed "under unknown circumstances" shortly after taking off from the airport, bound for San Jose. The incident will be investigated by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board, he said.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)