A Spirit Airlines flight was diverted from Orlando International Airport (MCO) after a fire broke out onboard.
Flight 259 was on its way to Orlando from Dallas when a battery from a passenger’s item reportedly caught fire in the overhead cargo bin. The plane was diverted to Jacksonville where it landed safely. The fire was handled with the heroic help of a retired fireman who happened to be a passenger onboard.
“There was a retired fireman that jumped up and the flight crew came in and they tried putting water on it and another guy went and got a bucket because I think the fireman reached in and grabbed it and they got it put out, but it took about 20 minutes.” passenger Kerri Arakawa told FirstCoast News. “The pilot got us out of the air really fast it was exciting and had a really smooth landing of all the things, but it was quite frightening for a little while until we knew we were on the ground and safe.”
Passengers disembarked at the terminal in Jacksonville. While no one appeared physically injured, 10 passengers were reportedly taken to the hospital after disclosing they felt ill by Jacksonville Fire Rescue.
“It was not until almost 6 o’clock that more people started feeling bad, and we then turned it into what we call an MCI level 1,” said JFRD Captain Eric Proswimmer. “We ended up transporting a total of 10 patients from this flight.”
“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,” the airline said.
Spirit refunded the passengers and provided vouchers and ground transportation to Orlando. It is still unclear what item caught on fire, what the current state of those passengers who were taken to the hospital, and how much longer the fire extended the passengers’ trip to their final destination.
Related: Video: Brightline Unveils New Station at Orlando Airport
Spirit Airlines is one of the most popular choices for flights in and out of Orlando International Airport, and one has to wonder how many Walt Disney World Resort Vacations or Universal Orlando Resort Vacations were disrupted because of this incident. The driving distance between Jacksonville and Orlando is over 140 miles or an estimated drive of over two hours.