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Plane Catches Fire On Runway Of Fort Lauderdale Airport

Firefighters walk around the Dynamic Air passenger jet that caught fire on the runway Thursday afternoon, forcing passengers and crew to evacuate the plane.
Firefighters walk around the Dynamic Air passenger jet that caught fire on the runway Thursday afternoon, forcing passengers and crew to evacuate the plane.

At about 12:30 on Thursday afternoon, Dynamic Air Flight 405 was taxiing on the north runway of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It was full of fuel and about to take off for Caracas, Venezuela.

What happened next shut down the airport for three hours and delayed hundreds of flights. 

Before the plane got off the ground, passengers heard what they described as a loud boom.

Andres Gallegos, in seat 12 A, turned to see flames outside. In the cockpit, the pilot was reporting a fire in the left engine. 

Then the pilot deployed the plane's emergency slides like a scene from an airplane safety card -- one few passengers ever experience. 

Andres Gallegos, who was on Dynamic Air Flight 405 Thursday afternoon headed to Caracas, Venezuela, was forced to evacuate along with 100 other passengers and crew when the plane caught fire on the runway before takeoff.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN
Andres Gallegos, who was on Dynamic Air Flight 405 Thursday afternoon headed to Caracas, Venezuela, was forced to evacuate along with 100 other passengers and crew when the plane caught fire on the runway before takeoff.

"As soon as the plane stopped, he opened the door, the chute came out and we evacuated the plane," Gallegos said. 

In two minutes, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue teams were on the scene, putting out the flames with chemical foam.

All 101 passengers and crew were evacuated.

And by 12:38 p.m., four minutes from when the emergency was reported, the fire was out.

One passenger was sent to the hospital with a serious head injury he got while running away from the plane on the tarmac.

Another two dozen passengers were eventually sent out for lesser injuries — anxiety, scrapes, chest pain, joint pain — what Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman MikeJachlesreferred to as the walking wounded.

The other passengers were sent to a family waiting room in terminal four.

"Fire Rescue responded, the passengers evacuated, the chutes were deployed," said airport spokesman Greg Meyer. "Everything worked the way it was supposed to work."

The passengers who spoke with media agreed: they said the airport and first responders had done exactly what they should have.

But they said they were furious with Dynamic Air for not communicating with passengers for hours after the evacuation.

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