FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A FedEx plane caught fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport runway, Friday afternoon, temporarily shutting down the airport.
Officials had ordered a complete ground stop at FLL, causing some delays for travelers, but it was lifted at 7 p.m. “Right know we’re back up and running normally, trying to get back into sync with how things were before the incident,” said Broward Aviation Authority spokesperson Greg Meyer during a news conference.
According to reports, the FedEx jet was arriving at FLL from Memphis, Tennessee, when the incident occurred.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the main landing gear on the FedEx 910 aircraft collapsed and then caught fire. The aircraft then rolled off Runway 10.
“There was a trail of fire, like a fireball, running fuel fire, down the runway leading to the jet,” said Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesperson Mike Jachles.
Schneider Bertrand, who works at a warehouse near the runway, said he saw the aircraft explode, slide and skid to a stop. “I saw the flames, the fire. I saw the trajectory the plane was [taking]. It was coming straight for my building,” he said. “Thankfully, it stopped where it did.”
7’s Skyforce HD flew over the scene as personnel exited the aircraft after the major malfunction.
The two pilots escaped using a rope ladder, as passengers and employees alike captured the fiery scene on their cellphones.
“It looked like it came in for a hard landing, looks like maybe they broke off the left side landing gear, however that happened,” said passenger Terry Smith. “That caused some sort of fire to have all that smoke.”
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue crews doused the plane with smoke, and the airport shut down operations for about an hour.
Friday night, a FedEx spokesperson released a statement that reads, “FedEx Flight 910 en route from Memphis to Fort Lauderdale experienced an issue upon landing at approximately 6 p.m. local time, Oct. 28. The two-pilot crew onboard the MD 10-10 evacuated safely. We are cooperating with investigating authorities. ”
Bertrand was able to get back to work, just across the tarmac from the disabled plane.
The aircraft remained at the same spot, early Saturday morning, and will stay there until National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrive.
The plane was carrying at least 46,000 pounds of U.S. mail. It remains unclear what other cargo may have been inside.
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue officials believe the cargo was not damaged.
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