A passenger was burned in a fire caused by a cellphone on board an Air Canada flight, just as the aircraft was preparing to leave Toronto en route to Vancouver.
The incident happened at approximately 7 a.m. Thursday on board Air Canada flight AC101, at Pearson International Airport, an airline spokesperson said in a statement to CTVNews.ca.
The cellphone owner suffered first-degree burns in the fire, but was able to walk off the plane without assistance.
“The fire was immediately extinguished by crews and there was no damage to the aircraft,” said Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick.
The fire happened on board a Boeing 787-9 with 266 passengers bound for Vancouver. The flight was delayed by approximately two hours.
Several passengers described the scene to CTV Toronto.
“People were jumping out of their seats and in the aisle. It looked like a small campfire-sized flame,” said Brandon Scott, a passenger on the flight. “If it was 20 minutes later, up in the air, it would have been a really serious situation.”
Toronto city councilor Joe Cressy was also on the plane.
“There was a commotion, we started hearing screaming and (I) looked back and I suppose 15 or 20 rows behind me, there was smoke,” he told CP24 in a phone interview. “The Air Canada staff responded immediately and were frankly phenomenal.”
“When something like this happens, of course everyone’s minds race. I think the correct response, which is what the crew had us all do, was to stay in your seats.”
Cathy Boote, another passenger, said she saw the owner of the phone try to stomp out the flames.
Dan Adamus of the Air Line Pilots Association says cellphone fires aren’t a particular concern for pilots, because they tend to be small and can be put out quickly.
“The greater concern is when lithium batteries are shipped in mass quantities and shipped in the cargo hold — in particular when they’re undeclared. That’s when they can — and they have — take down an aircraft.”
The make and model of the phone is unknown. But manufacturing defects in lithium-ion batteries have been known to cause phones to heat up and ultimately catch fire.
“When it works, lithium-ion is great for mobile devices, but if the battery is damaged, if it runs hot, if there’s something wrong with the device, it could be, essentially, a bomb in your pocket,” said tech analyst Carmi Levy.
Culled from CTV