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Malfunctioning Cell Phone Forces Evacuation of Alaska Flight

Seattle, USA - April 28, 2012: Alaska Airlines jet at the D Concourse being loaded with passengers and luggage.

Passengers aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 751 were forced to deplane their flight early, after a cell phone began to spark and emit smoke. The incident happened at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, as the arriving aircraft waited for a gate to open up.

A cell phone emitting sparks and smoke forced flyers aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 751 to evacuate their aircraft before getting to the gate, with much of the incident shared to social media. The Oregonian reports the order to abandon the aircraft came after the flight arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY), while pilots waited for a gate to open.

Despite Quick Efforts by Flight Attendants, Cabin Fills with Smoke

The emergency was declared at around 8:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, August 23, 2021. At first, pilots and first responders believed there was a fire in the cargo hold of the aircraft. After further clarification, the source of the smoke and sparks was from a cell phone in the main cabin.

A flight attendant was able to use a battery containment bag to put the cell phone fire out, but the cabin still filled with smoke. Because of the hazy and potentially hazardous conditions, the order to evacuate was given. Pictures shared on social media show the aircraft dark from smoky conditions and flyers out on the runway.

Only minor injuries were reported from the incident. It is unclear if anyone was transported to the hospital. Buses were deployed to return the flyers from the tarmac to the terminal. Airport officials say the operations were not affected by the incident and the aircraft was towed to a gate.

Overheating Phone to Blame for Fire, Drawing Concerns from Past Incidents

Although the fire was isolated to a phone, airline officials believe the device overheated, leading to the flight. Devices with lithium-based batteries have been a concern for airlines for years, since the outright ban of the Samsung Note 7 from airliners due to spontaneous combustion.

DEN September 16, 2021

Lithium Ion batteries have been catching fire since the early commercialization days at Ballard Technologies in Vancouver BC during the 80’s. Although it’s much much better today, it’s not a rare event by any means. There is little room in manufacturing for even the slightest assembly issue and charging remains problematic, just ask Boeing who had to revamp their charge algorithm and put the battery in a thicker steel box to contain a fire, should it/when it happens again. Sleep well tonight with your Prius in the garage and your solar panel battery storage device bolted to the side of your house……

SamirD August 25, 2021

All this without the make and model of the phone...