LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An American Airlines flight from Dallas to Indianapolis had to make an emergency landing in Arkansas after a passenger’s electronic cigarette “malfunctioned” and started a small fire, airline officials said.
American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said none of the 137 passengers or five crew members was injured, adding that crew members quickly extinguished the fire. The flight made the emergency landing Thursday afternoon at Little Rock’s Clinton National Airport.
“We were sitting on the plane and I noticed the flight attendants were frantically running,” passenger Susan Karimi told Little Rock television station KTHV. She added: “It was announced we were going to make an emergency landing and I felt lucky there was an airport nearby. I was prepared to land in the water or in the middle of a field.”
Feinstein said a replacement plane was sent to Little Rock and all passengers arrived in Indianapolis later Thursday. He said the original plane was inspected in Dallas and no damage was discovered.
Under Federal Aviation Administration rules , e-cigarettes are prohibited in checked luggage but allowed in carry-on bags. They may not be used on board the plane. Feinstein said all details about how the e-cigarette caught fire – including where it was being stored – will be investigated by the FAA.
E-cigarettes have been known to explode, with faulty batteries eyed as the possible culprit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which started regulating e-cigarettes in May, identified about 66 explosions in 2015 and early 2016, after recording 92 explosions from 2009 to September 2015. The industry maintains e-cigarettes are safe when used properly.
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