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Battery fire on Spirit flight to Florida sends 10 to hospital

A retired firefighter helped crew extinguish the fire in the air, the Jacksonville fire department said

A Spirit Airlines plane prepares to land at an airport in Oakland, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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An Orlando-bound Spirit Airlines flight made a safe landing at Jacksonville International Airport in Florida Wednesday afternoon after a battery caught fire in an overhead bin, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Capt. Eric Prosswimmer said crew members and a retired firefighter on the flight “took care of the problem in the air.”

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Rescue workers took 10 people, both crew and passengers, to the hospital with undisclosed (but not life-threatening) injuries or complaints, Prosswimmer said. He said that initially, only one passenger needed to be evaluated and transported, but as time passed, several others also needed treatment.

The FAA said in a statement that it is investigating the incident. Spirit did not immediately respond to questions from The Washington Post

A Spirit Airlines flight from Dallas to Orlando on March 1 was diverted to Jacksonville, Fla., after a battery caught fire in an overhead bin. (Video: Joseph Fleck, via Twitter)

Spirit Airlines Flight 259 left from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on an Airbus A320. The flight-tracking site FlightAware shows the flight landed at 3:53 p.m. in Jacksonville.

Videos and photos posted by a passenger show people clustered around an overhead bin in a smoky cabin. A woman can be heard saying: “grab me the ice bucket” and “empty it out into the toilet, please.”

Last month, a United flight returned to San Diego International Airport less than an hour after departing when a passenger’s laptop battery pack ignited. In that case, four flight attendants were taken to the hospital and two passengers were checked out at the scene.

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Due to a risk of overheating, the FAA says spare lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries, including external battery packs and cellphone charging cases, must be placed in carry-on bags only. The agency reported that there were 62 aviation-related incidents involving lithium batteries carried as cargo or luggage last year.

“There’s definitely a concern,” Hassan Shahidi, president and chief executive of the Flight Safety Foundation, told The Post last month. “We’ve seen the trend not going down, because people are increasingly having more of these devices onboard.”

Andrea Sachs contributed to this report.