Passengers Describe ‘Fireball’ That Forced Atlanta-Bound Flight to Make U-Turn

Oct 16, 2013 9:13pm

Federal investigators today say they are calling up some of their workers furloughed by the government shutdown to investigate a fire that reportedly broke out on a Spirit Airlines plane.

On Tuesday night, flight 165 from Dallas to Atlanta, carrying 145 passengers, was just minutes in the air when fliers felt and heard an explosion from the left side of the plane.

“Some people were praying out loud,” said Casey Rogers, who was seated in C-21. “Some people were praying quietly.”

Rogers said he could see a blaze burning right outside his window.

Smoke soon filled the cabin of the Airbus A319, he said, and fliers started to gasp for air.

“When the engine actually blew up and [the] fireball went past, the plane started shaking violently,” passenger Fred Edwards said.

Edwards, Rogers’ business partner and an experienced pilot, was sitting across the aisle from Rogers. They both said they started texting their wives.

“I said: ‘Ashley, I love you and make sure my kids know that forever,’” Rogers read from his phone. “Yeah, I sent that text thinking it was going to be my last.”

Despite one engine gone, Spirit Airlines said today that its pilot was able to power up the other engine, gain control of the plane and turn back to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The plane landed safely there and was followed by applause from the passengers.

Misty Pinson, a Spirit Airlines spokeswoman, said there were no injuries and that fliers were put on a later flight to Atlanta.

“We are actively investigating to confirm the specifics of what happened and the cause,” she said to ABC News.

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