Samsung phone to blame for plane evacuation at SDF, Metro Arson confirms

Published: Oct. 5, 2016 at 2:20 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2016 at 10:17 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Arson investigators confirmed Wednesday that the smoke that caused a Southwest Airlines flight to be evacuated came from an overheated Samsung device.

Southwest flight 994, a Boeing 737, was scheduled to depart SDF for Baltimore at 9:30 a.m., but the smoke was discovered at about 9:20 a.m., SDF spokeswoman Natalie Chaudoin said.

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Passenger Misty Whitaker told WAVE 3 News what the scene was like inside the plane.

"I was sitting at the front of the plane and I noticed a flight attendant coming quickly down the aisle saying, 'There's smoke on the plane,'" she said. "(They said), 'Leave all of your bags on the plane and come forward in an orderly fashion.' They said it was a Samsung Galaxy. The last they told us while we were waiting was that the fire had burned through the carpet.

"I know it was toward the back of the plane but I don't know if it was in an overhead bin or under a seat or what."

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Control tower audio just released indicated that one pilot said "there's smoke in the cockpit."

Whitaker said passengers with connections from Baltimore were being re-routed, but that flight 994 itself had been canceled shortly after 11 a.m.

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The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a warning last month to Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users to stop using the phones due to the risk of explosions and fires. The consumer warning came after at least 35 reports of the lithium-ion batteries in the devices overheating and bursting, resulting in fires. Samsung announced a recall affecting all of the 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 phones worldwide.

All 75 people aboard the plane were evacuated without incident. No injuries were reported.

Southwest issued a statement at 11:21 a.m. Wednesday in response to the incident:

Before Southwest Airlines Flight 994 departed from Louisville for Baltimore, a customer's electronic device, believed to be a Samsung, began emitting smoke. All customers and crew deplaned safely via the main cabin door. Customers will be accommodated on other Southwest flights to their final destinations. Safety is always our top priority at Southwest and we encourage our customers to comply with the FAA Pack Safe guidelines. 

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