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Flight attendant accused of starting fire in plane toilet

March 4, 2016 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Print Print Email Email

egtmedia59Very occasionally, a firefighter is found to have started a fire. Now, something similar is alleged to have happened on an aircraft, with a member of cabin crew allegedly responsible.

An American Airlines flight attendant is facing charges alleging that he started a fire in an aircraft toilet as the flight from Dallas neared its destination in Detroit.

The FBI says nobody was hurt during the 1 February 2016 fire aboard flight AA 1418.

A copy of the criminal complaint filed by the FBI was run in full in the Dearborn Patch news outlet in Massachusetts.

IN the document, David P. Gelious, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division, says the suspect, a flight attendant, reported a fire in the rear lavatory of the aircraft and extinguished the flames.

The flight was making its landing approach at Detroit Metropolitan Airport when the fire was reported to the captain, who was granted special emergency status to land. The landing went without incident and all passengers and flight crew disembarked safely.

In a petition filed in US federal court, it’s alleged that the suspect offered several explanations for the fire, but eventually admitted under questioning that he had used a lighter to ignite paper towels.

The documents go into considerable detail, stating that the suspect “used a green coloured Bic lighter to start the fire. Once the fire gained intensity, he immediately put the fire out”.

The documents go on to say the suspect then “exited the rear lavatory, stood in the hallway for several minutes, pretended to discover the fire and extinguished the remaining smouldering paper towels with a fire extinguisher after declaring an emergency to other flight attendants”. He also “contacted the captain, reported the fire and reported that he extinguished the fire”.

The FBI did not suggest a motive.

The suspect was arrested and officially charged in a detention hearing in US  District Court with “destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities” and “false statements or entries generally,” the FBI said.

The suspect was released on conditional bail, with a provision that he may not fly without permission of the court.

Written by Peter Needham

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