United Airlines Flight Turns Around after Fire in Cabin

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A fire on board a New Jersey-bound United Airlines plane prompted it to return to San Diego International Airport on Tuesday morning and four people were taken to a hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation, authorities said.

Authorities said that Flight 2664 was headed to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey when an external battery pack of a passenger caught fire just after takeoff.

Passenger Caroline Lipinski told KFMB-TV A bag belonging to a first class passenger started smoking just a few minutes after takeoff.

“He threw something on the ground and it was a battery charger pack or something from his laptop, it burst into fire,” she said.

“There was smoke in the cabin, I was terrified,” she said.

Passenger Stephan Jones said some passengers “were gasping, screaming” while flight attendants grabbed fire extinguishers and ran to the front of the plane.

Authorities said that the crew put the battery in a special bag to prevent it from spreading and that the Boeing 737 was safely returned to the airport around 7:30 a.m.

Four passengers were treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation, UC San Diego Health stated in a statement.

Several flight attendants were taken to the hospital as a precaution, United Airlines said in a statement that thanked crew members “for their quick actions in prioritizing the safety of everyone on board.”

According to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, two more people declined to go to the hospital.

KSWB-TV reports that the rest of the passengers boarded a second plane to New Jersey at 11:45 am. reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate.

While lithium-ion battery are commonly used in electronic devices, it has been reported that they can overheat and set fire to other electronics. These batteries can be carried on by airlines in carry-on luggage, but they cannot be checked into baggage.

After a laptop caught on fire aboard a Lufthansa flight between Los Angeles and Germany, it was diverted to Chicago.

Authorities said that a JetBlue plane carrying passengers from Barbados to New York had been evacuated in New York in December after an apparent battery fire. Emergency slides were used to evacuate more than 160 passengers. Five of the passengers sustained minor injuries.

New York: More than three dozen people were hurt by a fire started by an ebike battery that contained lithium-ion. November.

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