A vape pen’s battery, which overheated aboard a SkyWest flight on Wednesday, caused a small fire to erupt aboard the plane before takeoff in New York, but was quickly extinguished due to the quick action by a flight attendant.
The flight was to travel from LaGuardia Airport to Houston that afternoon when flames shot out of the overhead storage bin, causing smoke to fill the cabin.
Rex Sakamoto, a NowThis producer, told CBS2 that it was a scary experience.
“You could tell it was a very strong smell — smelled like a campfire at first,” he said. “Once I realized and someone yelled fire, it was startling, like, wow, I need to get off this plane right now.”
He said sparks flew from overhead as passengers continued to board, and video captured a flight attendant walking towards the bin and using a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
Passengers were then asked to leave the plane and did so without incident, spokesperson Layne Watson told USA Today. He added that the fire was caused by the vape pen’s “charger assembly.”
E-cigarettes and vaping devices are allowed in carry-on but are not permitted in checked baggage, according to the Transportation Safety Administration. USA Today reports that recharging the devices or batteries, however, is not allowed on the aircraft.
Sakamoto told CBS he was thankful the incident happened where it did.
“I’m just so glad it happened on the ground and not in the air,” he said.
According to FlightAware, an airline tracking website, the flight eventually left New York at 7:35 p.m. ET and arrived in Houston at 10:34 p.m. CT.
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