United flight emergency landing in San Diego after fire on board
A United Airlines flight that took off from San Diego Tuesday morning returned to the airport for an emergency landing after an external battery pack caught fire.
SAN DIEGO — A United Airlines flight that took off from San Diego Tuesday morning returned to the airport and made an emergency landing after a passenger’s external battery pack caught fire on board the plane.
It happened around 7:30 a.m. onboard United Flight 2664 bound for Newark.
Passengers tell CBS 8 the fire started in first class.
“I’m shaking, I’m shaking,” said passenger Caroline Lipinski. “There was smoke in the cabin, I was terrified. I didn’t know what was happening.”
Lipinski said she was seated in the front row of first class and that it was a passenger in the row behind her, whose bag started smoking.
“We had just taken off and a few minutes into the flight I heard people yelling ‘Smoke!'” she said.
“[I] turned around and a gentleman, his bag was smoking,” she said. “He threw something on the ground and it was a battery charger pack or something from his laptop, it burst into fire.”
“The cabin was completely flooded with smoke,” she said.
Fellow passenger, Stephan Jones, a retired police officer, was seated a few rows away. He said the carpet started on fire.
“Some [passengers] were gasping, screaming,” he said. “The guy next to me ran to the back of the plane. Flight attendants were grabbing fire extinguishers and running to the front.”
WATCH: Tuesday 11 a.m. update on emergency landing:
The crew put out the fire and told everyone to turn on their air for ventilation.
Jones said the man who threw the battery pack on the ground, his hands were black from the fire. He said he saw the man being interviewed by Harbor Police back at the airport.
Late Tuesday afternoon, CBS 8 was told no one was arrested.
According to San Diego Fire-Rescue, crews put the battery pack in a fire bag to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the plane. SDFD said the battery pack contained a lithium ion battery.
The FAA has posted videos on its website, warning people about the dangers of lithium batteries.
San Diego Fire Department confirmed that at least two passengers were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after United flight 2664 landed. The airline confirmed that several flight attendants were taken to the hospital as a precaution.
In a statement, United Airlines said “Our crew acted quickly to contain the device and medical personnel met the aircraft upon arrival at the gate. We thank our crew for their quick actions in prioritizing the safety of everyone on board the aircraft and we are making arrangements to get our customers to their destinations.”
According to FlightAware, United flight 2664 was in the air for a total of 44 minutes. It left San Diego International at 7:07 AM and landed again at San Diego International at 7:51 AM.
Here’s the full statement from United Airlines:
United flight 2664 safely returned to San Diego after a customer’s battery pack ignited. Our crew acted quickly to contain the device and medical personnel met the aircraft upon arrival at the gate. Several flight attendants were taken to the hospital as a precaution and two customers were evaluated onsite. We thank our crew for their quick actions in prioritizing the safety of everyone on board the aircraft and we are making arrangements to get our customers to their destinations.
WATCH: Chopper above runway after plane returns to San Diego airport: