Laptop battery catches fire, forces airplane to return to San Diego airport

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SAN DIEGO (KSWB) – A United Airlines plane was forced to return to San Diego International Airport on Tuesday morning after takeoff when an external laptop battery pack in the cabin caught fire.

United Airlines Flight 2664, a Boeing 737 on route to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, landed safely around 7:30 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration officials said.

Emergency crews were quick to respond, bringing the aircraft safely from the runway to a gate.

“This morning (Tuesday) we did have an alert 2 that was responded to once they were able to land at the airport. That then makes all of the emergency crews come out and we were able to get the plane from the runway to the gate safely,” said Sabrina LoPicolo, a spokesperson for the San Diego International Airport.

The plane’s crew was able to put the battery pack in a fire bag to prevent the blaze from spreading, according to the San Diego Fire Department.

In a statement to Nexstar’s KSWB, United Airlines said that those transported to the hospital were flight attendants and were taken there as a precaution for smoke inhalation.

A second plane was brought in for the passengers on the flight, which took off for New Jersey around 11:45 a.m.

According to TSA, lithium batteries limited to a rating of 100-watt hours or less, including power banks, can be brought on carry-on bags and checked luggage. Batteries with more than 100-watt hours can only be brought aboard in carry-on bags. The FAA warns damaged or recalled batteries are not to be flown with.

There is no information yet on what caused the battery pack to catch fire. The FAA will investigate the incident.

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