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Southwest passengers recall moments during Galaxy Note7 fire on board plane

Published: Oct. 5, 2016 at 8:59 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2016 at 10:16 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Passengers didn't need to be told twice to evacuate Southwest Flight #994, minutes before it would have departed Louisville International for Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

"Someone yelled out 'there's smoke, there's smoke," said Dr. Ta'Neka Lindsay, a Bellarmine University nursing instructor bound for a medical conference.

"Almost like a plastic or something was burning," recalled Dr. Misty Whitaker, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, who was headed to the same conference.

"It smelled horrible," Carmen Ferguson told WAVE 3 News. "And I smell like it right now, even my daughter smells like it."

Lindsay's first thought was terrorism. The passenger one row back of Ferguson dispelled that quickly.

"He was like 'dang, my phone!" Ferguson said. "He pitched it to his seat-mate, and she was like 'why you throwing it to me, it's not my phone!"

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Lindsay described what happened next. "The Captain got on the intercom and said 'exit the plane."

Moments earlier, the intercom had crackled with instructions to turn off cellphones, specifically referencing the Samsung Galaxy Note7. 
  
"My first thought was the recall," Lindsay said. "But, it also wasn't helpful. To know that you're on the plane with a phone that's on fire, and that there's a big cloud of smoke in the plane as well."

Though the smoke built quickly, "no one freaked out," Whitaker said. "Everyone remained calm, and I think there was fear. We wanted to get off the plane quickly.

Everybody did. But, Flight #994 sat.

Past 10 o'clock.

11 a.m.

Noon.

The Louisville Metro Arson Squad and Southwest mechanics pored over the passenger compartment. 
  
"They only said it had burned through the carpet and they needed to check under that for damage," Whitaker said.

That canceled the flight.

Lindsay was supposed to deliver her presentation in Baltimore at 3:15 p.m. At noon, she was unsure whether she'd make her conference at all.

Whitaker was confident she could push her talk to Thursday. "Very thankful we had the opportunity to walk off the plane and the plane wasn't in the air when it occurred," she said.

Southwest gave Ferguson a $200 travel voucher and rebook. But, her family was losing half a day of its trip to Washington, DC and the new African-American History Museum.

"Then my daughter said, 'what about your phone," she recalled laughing.

She owns a Samsung Galaxy, one model older than what's suspected of causing the fire.

"Not gonna use it," Ferguson told WAVE 3 News. "It's turned off, and I'm scared to turn it back on. 
  
Copyright 2016 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.