Retired New York firefighter helps put out fire on Spirit flight diverted to JIA

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A flight from Dallas to Orlando was diverted to Jacksonville International Airport because of a fire that started inside an overhead compartment.


According to JFRD, it was caused by the battery of a traveler’s personal item, leaving several people injured.

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JFRD tells Action News Jax, a total of 10 patients were transported to the hospital but are expected to be okay. We did speak with several passengers on that plane, and they are thankful this situation wasn’t worse than it was.

Darryl Smith says they were near their destination when something bad happened.

“Flight attendants start rushing to the back of the plane, and it filled with smoke, it was a white smoke,” Smith says.

As the smoke filled the plane several people had to step in.

“I opened the door he ran for extinguishers, and I wanted to find the seat of the fire, which I did,” Rocco Chierichella said.

A video shows multiple people, including Chierichella, trying to put the blaze out. He tells Action News Jax he is a retired New York firefighter.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to be a hero or anything like I said it’s just instinct. We are on a plane, I don’t know if there is water coming,” Chierichella said.

With his hands bandaged up, Chierichella is just grateful this incident didn’t turn out worse.

“I don’t know it’s blistering, it’s a bunch of blisters on this finger it will be fine, that we can recover from. I got to say the people on this flight were phenomenal. They held it together, so it could have been bad,” Chierichella said.

Several people told Action News Jax they were taking Uber, and also busses to Orlando.

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Spirit also is providing transportation and vouchers to the people who were on this flight.

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