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Four Hospitalized After Battery Pack Bursts Into Flames On United Airlines Flight From San Diego

Four Hospitalized After Battery Pack Bursts Into Flames On United Airlines Flight From San Diego

a white airplane on a runway

Four people were hospitalized after suffering from smoke inhalation when a battery pack overheated and burst into flames on a United Airlines flight from San Diego.

The battery pack, which belonged to one of the passengers onboard the Boeing 737MAX, started to overheat just a short time after the plane departed from San Diego Airport on Tuesday.

Flight attendants on United flight UA2664 with service to Newark rushed to put out the fire, using onboard fire extinguishers and a special fire containment bag which are specially designed to prevent lithium battery fires.

The pilots immediately diverted the flight back to San Diego, where it landed around 10 minutes later and was met by the local fire department. Six people and four of those had to be transported to the hospital.

The San Diego Fire Department said two of the injured declined further medical help after an initial evaluation at the scene.

United Airlines confirmed that “several” flight attendants were taken to hospital as a “precaution”, while two customers were treated at the scene. “Our crew acted quickly to contain the device and medical personnel met the aircraft upon arrival at the gate,” the airline said.

“We thank our crew for their quick actions in prioritizing the safety of everyone on board the aircraft and we are making arrangements to get our customers to their destinations,” the statement continued.

In December, two flight attendants at German flag carrier Lufthansa were treated for smoke inhalation after a passenger laptop caught fire in the overhead locker on a flight from Los Angeles.

That incident occurred just days after a jetBlue flight from Barbados was evacuated onto the tarmac at New York JFK after a passenger’s laptop overheated and started smoking just as the Airbus A320 pulled up to the gate on arrival.

The lithium batteries that power laptops, mobile phones and many other modern gadgets can suffer a dangerous ‘thermal runaway’ event should they be damaged or overheat.

Thermal runaway is essentially a chain reaction in which the temperature inside a battery can rise very quickly. The battery is likely to emit a lot of smoke, as well as sparks and fire. Once entrenched, it can be very difficult to extinguish a battery suffering thermal runaway.

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