An unknown number of people suffered minor injuries when an American Airlines flight caught fire on the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, forcing 170 crew members and passengers to evacuate, authorities have said.
Television reports showed yesterday afternoon a large plume of black smoke coming from the airliner, which appeared to be damaged at its rear. Evacuation chutes extended from the plane with emergency vehicles surrounding the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that while the Boeing 767 was taking off around 2:35 PM bound for Miami, the pilots reported that the aircraft blew a tire and they aborted the takeoff.
FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro also said that an engine was damaged and that some people suffered minor injuries. He said he could not give an exact number.
According to an American Airlines spokeswoman, the flight aborted takeoff due to an “engine-related mechanical issue.” Leslie Scott said the 161 passengers and 9 crew members deplaned on the runway and buses were to be sent to pick up the passengers and bring them back to the terminal.
A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said the board is aware of the incident but hasn’t made a decision on whether to investigate.
Chicago fire officials said on the department’s Twitter account that there was an extra-alarm emergency response at the airport for an “aircraft down.” Fire officials couldn’t immediately be reached for further comment.