By Andrea Romano
July 05, 2019
Joseph Sohm/Getty Images

A Virgin Atlantic plane had to make an emergency landing at Boston Logan International Airport on Thursday after a fire broke out in the cabin. The firestarter happened to be someone’s faulty cell phone charger.

Passengers on a Virgin Atlantic Flight VS138 from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to London Heathrow started to smell smoke coming from first class about 30 minutes after takeoff, CNN reported.

According to CNN, passenger Cory Tanner said he was told by a flight attendant that the smoke was caused by a TV unit that caught fire. However, according to CBS Boston, Massachusetts State Police said that a battery pack for a cell phone charger, which was stuffed between two seats, may have actually been the cause.

A statement from Massachusetts State Police on MSPNews.org confirms that a “device located between the cushions of the seat” had “ignited,” and “wires were protruding from the area of the fire.” The statement also said that the device looked like an external phone charger.

Lithium batteries, which are most commonly used for cell phone and laptop chargers, must be packed with caution for flights and are often only allowed in carry-on luggage so passengers can quickly access them. There have been many instances of these batteries exploding or catching fire since they give off excess heat. Shoving these battery packs between seats, where heat isn’t allowed to dissipate, will likely lead to fires — especially if the batteries are damaged or worn.

Luckily, according to CBS Boston, the crew was able to put out the fire quickly. Out of the 217 passengers (or the other crew) on board, no serious injuries were reported, but one passengers refused treatment for smoke inhalation. The plane landed at Logan Airport around 9 p.m., where the plane was inspected by the Boston Fire Department.

Virgin Atlantic confirmed the incident in a statement to CBS Boston. “Our crew responded immediately and the plane has landed safely in Boston. The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we are currently investigating to fully understand the circumstances,” reps for the airline said. “We’d like to thank our customers for their patience as we work with them to provide local accommodation or to rebook alternative flights to their final destination.”

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