Friday, December 16, 2016

Flight makes emergency landing at Clinton National Airport due to e-cigarette fire

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing today in Little Rock.

“We were sitting on the plan and I noticed the flight attendants were frantically running," said passenger Susan Karimi.

Passenger Mark Richardson said they heard a "code red" over the intercom. He thought someone was having a heart attack but then he smelled smoke. According the FAA an electronic cigarette caught fire in a passengers carry-on bag on the plane.

“The guy sitting next to me and the lady said they saw smoke coming from below the seat,” Karimi said.

Putting the fire out was no easy task according to Richardson. Flight attendants initially used one fire extinguisher, but had to use every fire extinguisher on board.

"I think they just sort of threw it in the bathroom in the toilet to damper it out and because there were no more fire extinguishers on board we had to divert here,” Richardson said.

Karimi was thankful to be close to the Clinton National Airport when the incident happened.

“It was announced we were going to make an emergency landing and I felt lucky there was an airport nearby," she said. "I was prepared to land in the water or in the middle of a field.”

Mike Chapline was pleased with how the American Airlines crew handled the situation, saying they conducted themselves professionally and that they made a "pretty big deal into a pretty routine thing.”

According to the FAA's guidelines, electronic cigarettes are currently allowed in carry-on bags. Karimi thinks allowing electronic cigarettes on planes at all should be reconsidered.

This incident is still under investigation by the FAA. As for the passengers they were finally able to board their replacement plane a little after 7:00 p.m.

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