At least one person was killed and nine others were injured on Thursday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after a commercial jet carrying more than 180 people returned to its gate and apparently caught fire. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was unclear what caused the fire or whether it was intentional. Several witnesses also reported hearing shots on the tarmac at the airport.
It was not immediately clear if the gunfire incident was random or targeted. But Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Keith Meadows confirmed that it was an accident with an “ATF marker gun,” adding that it was consistent with what people heard and reported. ATF agents were investigating.
Video taken at the scene showed a building engulfed in flames. Doors in the area were barricaded, and passengers who had been in the terminal took shelter on staircases outside the building. Some people had visible injuries. At least one woman was reportedly disoriented and appeared to be in need of medication.
The injured passengers included passengers from more than a dozen flights, Atlanta Aviation Director Sharon Pinkston said at a news conference. Several emergency vehicles could be seen at the scene.
Fire broke out at the airport, and passengers evacuated from the airport. Houston Post reporter @Brooksy_Rachel describes the scene: pic.twitter.com/PMzXRLlRYq — Dara Kam (@DaraKam1) April 26, 2018
Passengers on an Atlanta-bound airplane were moved onto an inflatable chute, according to reports. Photos from the scene showed hundreds of people sheltering on the ramp as they awaited their flights.
Atlanta flight numbers 222, 214, 224, 233, and 368 landed in trouble, diverting to Bangor, Maine; Pensacola, Fla.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Albany, N.Y. A small fire at a terminal was extinguished quickly, Pinkston said.
UPDATE: It’s getting so hot on the jet ramp! pic.twitter.com/T9u1hKTcBa — Cody Wilson (@codywilson) April 26, 2018
The passengers who had been on the plane reported to local media that they felt something hit the plane as they were coming in. They said the aircraft was flying low and could see orange flames.
Gerald Wright of Atlanta, said passengers began screaming when they felt a sharp drop when the plane’s wheels hit the runway. He also said that passengers knew there was a fire after they smelled and heard sirens. A hotel was quickly set up nearby for stranded passengers to stay overnight.
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