Major Tragedy Averted At Florida Airport After Plane Catches Fire During Takeoff

A major tragedy was averted at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Thursday after a Dynamic International Airways plane caught fire on the runway during takeoff.

Dynamic International Airways flight number 405, a Boeing 767, was bound for Caracas, Venezuela, when an engine burst into flames as the pilots were taxiing the flight just prior to takeoff at 12:30 pm Thursday, forcing the 101 people on board to use inflatable emergency slides to exit the plane. According to Reuters, more than 20 people were hurt, one of them seriously, as the passengers scampered to get through to safety. All the other passengers were safely made to evacuate the plane, an official statement by the company said.

An ambulance, fire truck and other emergency vehicles were immediately on the scene to help douse the fire, photos surfacing on social media revealed.

The aircraft, which had been in use since 1986, was seen leaking fuel before departure by the pilots of a jet taxiing behind the Venezuela-bound flight. In the next few minutes, as the flight prepared for takeoff, an engine suddenly caught fire and appeared to be escalating by the second, throwing passengers into a frenzy. Over the communication made to the control room, the audio of which you can find here, a nervous pilot can be frantically heard yelling the words “Engine on fire! Engine on fire!”

“Hey, yeah, Dynamic, the left engine looks like it’s leaking, I don’t know, a lot of fuel. There is fluid leaking out of the left engine,” the voice continues.

Andres Gallegos, who was one of the first passengers to use chutes to evacuate the burning plane, said it took more than 30 seconds for the emergency doors to open.

“I heard a loud bang. I turned around, saw the lights, saw the flames and I ran to the front of the aircraft. It was pretty nerve-wracking, knowing that the door wasn’t opening and that something was on fire.”

Another passenger, a 71-year-old rancher named Luis Campana, said he sensed something was wrong as the pilot put the thrust on to taxi up the runway.

“It was a real scare. The engine exploded. As we were getting out of the plane down the chute, the smoke was beginning to enter and the engine was in flames.”

Immediately after the plane caught fire, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport faced an indefinite shutdown by the authorities, with more than 250 flights having to bear the brunt of the unexpected incident. Later, though the airport resumed operations at about 3:30 pm on Thursday, aviation officials told reporters that the airport wouldn’t operate at 100 percent until the north runway could be reopened. WSVN reported, however, that the tarmac was cleared of all debris by 9 pm last night.

According to Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles, a total of 21 people were injured, most of whom were treated at a hospital and released. Most passengers suffered minor injuries in their attempts to evacuate the burning plane. However, one male passenger who fell and hit his head while running on the tarmac was seriously injured and is still hospitalized late Thursday, Jachles confirmed.

Dynamic International Airways is a small airline company with a fleet of seven Boeing jets and operates flights to Brazil, Hong Kong and Guyana apart from Venezuela. The company has still not officially commented on the reason behind its plane catching fire, though it did confirm that it was investigating the matter and promised that an official statement is to be released soon.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a four-person team to Fort Lauderdale to investigate the reason behind the plane catching fire so unexpectedly, the agency said on its Twitter account.

[Photo via mikejdupuy / Twitter]

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