Spirit plane catches fire after hitting bird at New Jersey airport

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Sunday, October 3, 2021
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More than 100 passengers and crew members evacuated the plane after it hit a bird while accelerating for takeoff.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- A Spirit Airlines flight from Atlantic City to Fort Lauderdale hit a "large bird" while accelerating for takeoff, causing damage to the engine and forcing passengers and crew to evacuate, according to the airline.

The incident was reported Saturday afternoon.

The pilot hit the brakes and brought the plane to a stop.

Video filmed from inside the airport showed flames and smoke on one side of the plane before emergency slides were released.

Spirit said in a statement that they "commend" their crew "for handling the situation swiftly and safely," and said that all guests evacuated the plane and were bussed back to the terminal.

The airline said guests received full refunds, a future travel voucher and the option of traveling to Fort Lauderdale on another plane.

"Spirit A320 was departing ACY for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. At approximately 5:49 PM, the engine of the aircraft caught fire on Runway 13-31. 109 individuals on board: 102 passengers and 7 crew members. Everyone was successfully evacuated off the plane. As of right now, we have 2 reported minor injuries which called for medical transportation. No further injuries reported. The Airport is currently closed. The airplane still on runway but the fire is out. The airplane will remain there pending an investigation from the NTSB & the FAA."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted that there were "no serious injuries."

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