FORT LAUDERDALE –– The engine of a Caracas, Venezuela-bound Boeing 767 caught fire while the plane taxied for departure today at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, a Federal Aviation Administration official said.
The pilot of an aircraft travelling behind Dynamic International Airways Flight 405 reported fuel was leaking from the aircraft before it caught fire, the official said. The fire occurred about 12:30 p.m. on the airport’s north runway.
Passengers evacuated the jet via emergency slides onto the taxiway.
The airport was closed as emergency officials responded, airport spokesman Allan Siegel said.
Audio from the air traffic control tower caught one of the pilots saying: “The left engine looks like it’s leaking a lot of fuel. There is fluid leaking out of the left engine.”
Less than 30 seconds later, as the tower was contacting the ramp so the Dynamic jet could return to the airport, a pilot said: “Engine’s on fire. Engine’s on fire.”
Images and video from passengers who were at the airport or on other planes showed plumes of dark grey smoke billowing from the red and white jet.
An ambulance, fire truck and other emergency vehicles were on the scene in one of those photos, while another witness posted video of emergency responders dousing the plane with hoses.
A spokesman of the Broward Sheriff’s Office tweeted that there was an engine fire, the plane was evacuated and there were “several injuries”.
Amy Erez of the Broward Health Medical Centre told CNN that doctors there were expecting six to ten individuals to be transported to the hospital.
The Broward Sheriff Office’s Department of Fire Rescue told CNN affiliate WSVN-TV that 14 people were injured. Earlier, the station reported that three people required hospitalization.
Two calls to Dynamic International Airways’ headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, were both met with “no comment” on the fire. In a series of Spanish tweets replying to those concerned about the fire, Dynamic said all passengers were safely evacuated and promised an official statement “soon”.
“Dynamic International Airways flight safely diverted. Flights continue per schedule Oct 30 2015,” an English tweet from the airline said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a four-person team to Fort Lauderdale to investigate the fire, the agency tweeted.
According to an FAA database, the plane was built in 1986.