Plane Catches Fire During Takeoff at O’Hare Airport, Minor Injuries Reported

About 20 people on board an American Airlines flight bound for Miami suffered minor injuries, fire officials said, after the plane caught fire Friday afternoon on a runway at O'Hare International Airport.

The right wing engine of American Airlines Flight 383 went up in flames at approximately 2:35 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. On board the 767 jet were 161 passengers and 9 crew members, who deplaned on the runway via emergency chutes, the FAA said.

Video at top: Passengers deplane American Airlines Flight 383. Video courtesy of Jose Castillo, whose father was on board the plane. Castillo says his father is “shaken up but okay.”

The incident “could have been absolutely devastating,” said Chicago Fire Department District Chief Tim Sampey during a briefing late Friday afternoon. The plane was loaded with about 43,000 pounds of fuel. 

Sampey praised emergency responders and the communications tower for getting everyone off the plane, which was about midway down the runway when it came to a stop. Responding emergency crews had to deal with a “heavy volume of fire,” Sampey said, and also leaking fuel.

Chicago Fire Department District Chief Juan Hernandez said at the briefing that all of the injured transported to area hospitals suffered from minor injuries, such as bruising and ankle injuries, that were sustained during evacuation of the plane.

American Airlines earlier reported that seven passengers and one flight attendant were injuried. All other passengers aboard the plane were returned to the terminal, the airline said.

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge says it has admitted four people from the incident. Three others were admitted to Preservation Resurrection Medical Center. Details were not provided on the patients’ conditions.

More video from Castillo:

The pilot aborted takeoff “due to an engine-related mechanical issue,” American Airlines communications spokeswoman Leslie Scott told CNN shortly after the incident.

The Chicago Fire Department responded immiediately and extinguished the fire. Currently, three runways are closed at O’Hare.

The National Transportation Safety Board will proceed with an investigation into the direct causes of the fire, which are not yet known. 

Information posted to the American Airlines website stated, “We are taking care of our customers and crew and are re-accommodating our passengers on another flight to Miami this evening.”

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