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Passenger helps crew put out fire on flight after vape battery catches alight

A retired firefighter onboard helped put the flames out

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Thursday 02 March 2023 12:13 GMT
The source is thought to have been a battery-powered vape
The source is thought to have been a battery-powered vape (Twitter/ @nottajshow)

A Spirit Airlines flight was forced to divert after a battery caught fire in the aircraft cabin.

Flight 259 was travelling from Dallas Fort Worth to Orlando, Florida on Wednesday 1 March at 2pm when a small fire broke out onboard.

After the blaze was spotted, passenger and retired New York firefighter Rocco Chierichella worked with crew members to put it out.

Mr Chierichella said: “What it was, was a battery-powered vape tied to a battery charging inside the compartment. Very dangerous. And it ignited a piece of luggage next to it.”

The flight was then diverted to Jacksonville, Florida where firefighters arrived at the scene and boarded the aircraft on the ground.

Passenger Joseph Fleck shared footage of the incident unfolding on social media. One video shows crew tackling the flames.

In another, firefighters are seen opening an overhead locker on the plane where the battery apparently was. The passenger also posted an image and video showing smoke filling the cabin.

Mr Fleck subsequently tweeted: “We are safe after a scary fire broke out during our @SpiritAirlines flight.”

“We made a quick decent and emergency landing into Jacksonville. After waiting for over an hour they grounded the plane and we had to find our own way to Orlando,” Mr Fleck said, before adding he spent $250 (£208) on an Uber.

A spokesperson for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department confirmed that 10 people had been taken to hospital, including crew members and passengers.

Mr Fleck later posted an additional update. He said: “Spirit has issued me a full refund, $100 future travel voucher, food vouchers and reimbursement for the $200 uber to Orlando.”

“This was no fault of Spirit, they handled things with great respect. I only wish we had been able to evacuate the plane once we landed,” Mr Fleck added.

In a statement shared online a Spirit Airlines spokesperson said: “We thank our crew and guests for their quick actions to ensure the safety of everyone onboard, and we thank first responders for meeting the aircraft. We are arranging alternate transportation for our guests from Jacksonville to Orlando.”

The Independent has contacted Spirit Airlines for comment.

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