Airplane fire at Florida airport injures 15

Passengers are evacuated from a plane on fire at Fort Lauderdale airport, Florida on Oct 29, 2015.
Passengers are evacuated from a plane on fire at Fort Lauderdale airport, Florida on Oct 29, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - Fifteen people were injured when an airliner caught fire while taxiing to a runway at Fort Lauderdale in Florida on Thursday (Oct 29), authorities said. 

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said an engine caught fire on the Boeing 767, which was getting ready to depart for Venezuela. 

One person sustained serious burn injuries, two were less seriously hurt and the remaining twelve had bumps and bruises, county officials told a press conference. 

Officials said there were 101 people on board the plane when it caught fire.  Meanwhile, one runway had been reopened. 

“We’re still being impacted by the incident here. But the good news is that we’re going to start to gear back up and flights will resume,” Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said.

Video images circulating on the Internet showed a large cloud of black smoke pouring from the plane. Other images showed a fire-damaged engine under one of its wings. 

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team to investigate the fire.  The plane was operated by Dynamic International Airways, a US-certificated airline that only recently had begun flights between Fort Lauderdale and Caracas’ Simon Bolivar International Airport. 

“Still waiting to hear the extent of injuries. And exactly what happened. But looks like quick action really made a big difference here,” Representative Debbie Wasserman, whose congressional district includes Fort Lauderdale, said on CNN. 

Waserman noted that there is a large Venezuelan community in Broward County.  The Federal Aviation Administration said flights in and out of the Fort Lauderdale airport were suspended following the incident. 

The airport handles about 26 million passengers a year, and has flights servicing about 40 international destinations and 60 others in the United States.