A small airplane crashed into a Sioux Falls neighborhood shortly after sunset on Christmas Day, killing both people aboard the aircraft and damaging four homes, authorities said.

The plane went down in a backyard on the southeast side of South Dakota's largest city shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday and ignited flames that burned for hours.

Police Capt. Loren McManus said during a Wednesday morning media briefing that one death was reported initially and a second confirmed later.

Later in the day, the Minnehaha County coroner identified the victims as Sioux Falls residents Vaughn and JoAnn Meyer, both 68.

At the morning briefing, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Division Chief Steve Fessler said, "We were all pretty lucky that no homes were directly impacted."

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue emergency manager Regan Smith said Tuesday night the twin-engine plane was heading south when it went down.

Two homes had extensive exterior damage and were left uninhabitable, Smith said, while two other homes suffered less serious damage.

Smith described the debris field between the 4200 blocks of Woodwind Lane and Birchwood Avenue as quite large.

Resident Tim Helgeson told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper that the impact of the crash "felt like a cement truck racing down the street and then, boom."

Another resident, Jim Lang, said he felt the ground shake and heard what sounded like a vehicle accelerating rapidly. He looked out his window and saw "a yellow ball of fire."

Federal aviation agencies are investigating, but they are leaving the release of any information to the public to the local agencies in light of the partial federal government shutdown.