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Plane trying to take off in NJ evacuated after fire

October 3, 2021 GMT

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A Florida-bound plane trying to take off from a New Jersey airport caught fire on the runway after an apparent bird strike, prompting the evacuation of more than 100 passengers and crew, officials said.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-bound Spirit Airlines Flight 3044 was accelerating for takeoff on the Atlantic City Airport runway shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday when it hit what officials authorities believe was a large bird, the airline said in a statement.

“The captain braked safely and brought the plane to a stop, received an indication of damage to the engine, and ordered an evacuation in accordance with our standard procedures,” the airline said, noting that the aircraft never left the ground.

Flames could be seen coming from the engine of the plane in a photo tweeted by @Medic6940, the Press of Atlantic City reported. The cabin of the plane never caught fire, the airline said.

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The South Jersey Transportation Authority said all 109 people on board the Airbus A320 aircraft, 102 passenger and seven crews members, were safely evacuated. Two people reported minor injuries “which called for medical transportation,” the authority said.

The fire was extinguished and the airplane was left on the runway pending an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration, the authority said.

Passengers were to receive full refunds along with a voucher for future travel and the option of continuing to Fort Lauderdale on another plane later Saturday, the airline said.