GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Pilots of a JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco were forced to land close to the midway point of the trip after a fire was started by a lithium battery inside a passenger's laptop.
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No injuries or damage to the aircraft were reported, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro. The plane landed safely at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids at 8:10 p.m. Tuesday and left later for San Francisco. Firefighters responded as a precaution, but the airport said the fire was out by the time the plane landed.
JetBlue Airways Corp. said reports of "smoke emitting from a carry-on bag holding an electronic device" caused flight 915 from John F. Kennedy Airport to be diverted. The New York airline said the incident was being investigated and offered no additional details Wednesday.
Lithium batteries in electronic devices have been a problem for airlines. Last year, Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones were banned from flights after reports of the phones catching fire. And safety advocates have warned that an electronics ban, which mostly affects flights leaving Middle Eastern and North African countries to the U.S. and Britain, could be a fire risk since passengers have to pack their laptops and other large devices into checked bags that are placed in unmanned cargo holds.
Kat Honniball, who was aboard the JetBlue flight, told WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids that passengers were "absolutely calm" as flight attendants responded.