It was a lucky escape for 62 passengers and crew onboard an Alaska Airlines flight after the aircraft made an unplanned, emergency landing at Modesto, California following a fire in the plane’s cargo hold. According to a report by The Associated Press, the service that was involved in the incident was Alaska Airlines Flight 3391 that was operated by SkyWest. The aircraft involved was an Embraer 175 twin jet.
— SFGate (@SFGate) April 9, 2017
Alaska Airlines Flight 3391 was on its way from Sacramento to San Diego when the crew was alerted about a possible fire in the aircraft’s cargo area. According to reports, the pilots of the aircraft responded to a warning signal from the plane’s system that warned them about a possible fire. Since they were not in a position to visually inspect the cargo area, they took no chances and decided to execute an emergency landing at the nearest available airport — which in this case happened to be the Modesto City-County Airport.
— Linda Mumma (@KCRALindaMumma) April 9, 2017
A few minutes after the crew declared an emergency, Alaska Airlines Flight 3391 landed safely at Modesto at around 6:50 a.m., local time. None of the passengers or crew members were injured during the landing and authorities confirmed that all the 62 people onboard the aircraft were safely moved to the terminal building. Several of the passengers were later taken back to Sacramento on buses arranged by Alaska Airlines.
1 dozen passengers from this Alaska Airlines flight have been bussed back to Sac after emergency landing in Modesto. pic.twitter.com/Jpd1CWkRHR
— Mike Luery (@KCRALuery) April 9, 2017
Meanwhile, officials from the Modesto Fire Department told reporters that the aircraft did not show any signs of fire damage and that there was not active fire when the plane landed at Modesto. They have not ruled out the possibility of this being a technical glitch that set off the fire alarm system on the aircraft. Investigators used high-tech equipment- including thermal cameras to check if there was indeed a fire in the cargo hold of Alaska Airlines Flight 3391. Officials also confirmed that the fire extinguishing system onboard the aircraft had been activated and could have helped douse the flames.
When asked about the incident, Modesto Fire Division Chief Michael Lillie said;
“We had no visible signs of smoke or fire on the outside of the plane. We did a quick lap with thermal imaging cameras. We were getting a heat source in the cargo area, but after investigation we found that was just coming from normal operations of the plane.”
The firefighters who were immediately pressed into service right after the aircraft landed also hinted towards the possibility of the fire warning as being a technical glitch.
As of this writing, Alaska Airlines did not release an official statement talking about this incident. Since the service was operated by SkyWest, the official spokesperson for the company, McKall Morris issued a statement on behalf of the company in which he apologized for the inconvenience caused to the passengers while also reiterating that the emergency landing had to be performed to ensure the safety of the passengers.
An excerpt from his official statement read;
“Safety is always our top priority. Our maintenance team and the fire department inspected the aircraft and found no issues. We worked with our partner, Alaska Airlines, to help passengers resume their travels to San Diego and apologize for any inconvenience to our passengers.”
Several passengers onboard Alaska Airlines Flight 3391 are thankful that the aircraft landed safely. One of the passengers, a woman identified as Vicki Peters said;
“I was kind of making my peace with God. I was saying if this is it I’m ready. God in his mercy allowed us to land safely.”
Another passenger, Barbara Miller said;
“I’m happy to be here all things considered.”
It will be a while before the actual cause behind this incident on Alask Airlines Flight 3391 would come to light.
[Featured Image By Albert22288/Pixabay]