SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Honniball family was returning to the Bay Area Tuesday night when suddenly a shocking announcement came over their JetBlue’s flight’s public address system.
“It was shocking and scary,” said Kailey Honniball as she deplaned with her family early Wednesday at San Francisco International. “When there is a PA announcement and it was basically like she was saying like ‘Fire in row 25.'”
Kailey Honniball said she could smell the fire in a backpack seven rows behind her.
“I smelt it,” she said. “I notice that the stewardess had a storage bin and she was trying to get the backpack. She was trying to put the fire out. You could see smoke and smell it.”
Her father, Alan, also was stunned.
“It was pretty scary to see smoke on the plane,” he said. “We were at 35,000 feet and all of a sudden we hear an announcement and look back at row 25 and we saw everybody standing up and smoke…Smoke on a plane is not a good thing.””
He said the crew and other passengers didn’t panic.
“Everyone was pretty calm,” he said.
The JetBlue flight — an Airbus A321 flying from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to San Francisco International Airport — was diverted to an emergency landing in Grand Rapids, Mich. after a lithium battery fire ignited from a laptop inside the passenger’s backpack.
The aircraft landed safely at 8 p.m. EST and then taxied to the gate. Crews at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport quickly dealt with the incident and the plane was sent on its way. It landed at SFO just after midnight.
Grand Rapids Ford Airport spokeswoman Tara Hernandez said authorities were trying to determine what device the battery belong to.
She said while it was a lithium battery that started smoldering, it was not a laptop battery. The laptop was in the bag with it.
“Our fire department actually has all of the materials and they are investigating as to what it belongs,” she said.