Scary moments on board a China Southern aircraft as fire broke out in the overhead bin caused by an exploding power bank of one passenger that was stowed in his carry on baggage.
Power banks have been subject to restrictions for quite some time now and especially in China where they are very popular you can see security personnel inspecting them at the checkpoint as only smaller ones are permitted.
Yet on this China Southern flight apparently yet another faulty one almost caused a disaster as it exploded inside a passengers carry on that had already been stowed in the overhead bin and quickly caught fire.
The South China Morning Post (access here) reported about it last night.
A fire broke out in the cabin of a China Southern Airlines plane while it was boarding at Guangzhou airport around noon on Sunday.
No injuries were reported and the fire was quickly extinguished but the incident caused a three-hour delay, the airline said in a statement.
The company said it was believed to have been caused by a portable mobile phone charger that had been stowed in an overhead compartment by a passenger, according to a preliminary investigation. The charger was not in use when the fire started.
As passengers were boarding flight CZ3539 from Guangzhou to Shanghai Hongqiao airport, smoke and flames began billowing from the overhead locker and the cabin crew evacuated the plane. The crew and firefighters put out the fire on the Boeing 777-300ER wide-body jet airliner with only minor damage to the cabin, the airline said.
On its official Weibo account, the airline commended the quick reaction of one of the flight attendants. “Our colleague reacted to the fire in a timely and appropriate way,” the company said when asked why a flight attendant was seen throwing water on the fire in a video rather than using an extinguisher.
The owner of the charger was taken away by police for further investigation and the rest of the passengers were placed on another flight.
Videos circulating show the crew putting the fire out with beverages that appear to be water and orange juice which undoubtedly was something the had already in hand but the appropriate items would have probably been the designated firefighting equipment.
There is a video by AP on youtube (see here) showing part of the incident:
Obviously people including the crew are scared and act frantic in this clip. The fire is extinguished rather quickly but also produced a large amount of smoke. What’s disturbing is that you can see people removing their baggage instead of just leaving the aircraft as soon as possible.
This shows that power banks are indeed pretty dangerous and would this incident have occurred in the air with closed overhead bins it could have ended in disaster. Plenty or planes have crashed as a result of a fire on board.
Thankfully this all happened on the ground and with the jet bridge attached so passengers were able to exit quickly, if they weren’t too busy with their baggage that is.