Charging vape pen blamed for midair fire on flight to Orlando, emergency landing

Total of 10 people on board were taken to hospital, JFRD says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Spirit Airlines flight that was traveling from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Orlando International Airport had to make an emergency landing Wednesday at Jacksonville International Airport, according to News 6 partner WJXT.

Joseph Fleck, a passenger aboard the plane, shared video of the incident with News 6.

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According to a statement from Spirit, flight 259 was diverted after what’s believed to be a battery fire from a passenger’s item in an overhead bin. It was said to have been extinguished while the plane was in flight.

The plane landed and taxied to the terminal, Spirit said. According to Capt. Eric Prosswimmer, spokesperson for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, a total of 10 people were hospitalized from the flight, including passengers and crew members. He couldn’t specify the symptoms they were exhibiting, but the injuries were said to be non-life-threatening.

“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,” a statement from Spirit reads.

Passengers of the plane were waiting at the airport into the night. Rocco Chierichella and his wife were on the plane.

“It was starting to drop altitude and somebody yelled, ‘fire,’” he recalled.

Chierichella, a retired New York City firefighter, sprang into action. He and other crew members worked to get the fire out, which left him with some burns on his fingers.

“Smoke was billowing out of it,” Chierichella said. “And 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.”

Fleck said that he was on the way to Disney with his family.

“Everyone calmed down a bit and we all clapped, but it was still really hard to breathe in there,” Fleck said. “The fumes were terrible.”

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