Dynamic Airways plane catches fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Runway reopens; plane removed from taxiway

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Nearly two dozen people were injured Thursday when a commercial airplane caught fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The fire was reported about 12:45 p.m. on Dynamic Airways flight 405.

Broward Sheriff's Office Department of Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said firefighters were at the tarmac within two minutes while passengers and crew members were evacuating the plane. 

One passenger, Daniela Magro, told reporters at the airport that she saw the plane's left wing on fire.

"We didn't have an announcement," she said. "We just saw the fire and people started freaking out, and we just left the airplane."

"People started sprinting to the front of the airplane, and that's it," Magro's brother, David Magro, said. "I turned around and saw flames and that was it."

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the Boeing 767 was taxiing on the runway when it was reported that fuel was leaking from the plane. Its left engine then caught fire. The flight was preparing to takeoff for Caracas, Venezuela.

Broward Health spokeswoman Amy Erez said 21 people were treated at Broward Health Medical Center, including one child.

Jachles said one of the patients suffered serious head injuries after falling down while running away from the burning plane. Two others suffered less severe injuries, and the rest suffered bumps and bruises, he said.

Emergency room physician Dr. Ian Russinoff said most of the minor injuries were to the patients' shoulders, knees, elbows and ankles.

"Many of them were injured just from going down the ramp," Dr. Julie Phillips said. "People piled up and so there is minor injuries, sprains and abrasions and a fracture -- a humerus fracture."

Russinoff said some were also experiencing chest pain and anxiety.

The patients include passengers and employees.

RELATED: 10 safest airlines for 2015

Audio from the air traffic control radio transmission captured the conversation between the pilot and air traffic controllers in the moments before and after the plane caught fire.

"Engine fires are something that we train for," Jachles said. "It's not uncommon. That's why we prepare for those."

A passenger took cellphone video of the fire after getting off the plane. She is heard saying in Spanish, "They got us off in an emergency. The plane is burning. It's really burning."

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport spokesman Greg Meyer said the airport was closed for about three hours after the fire. The airport's south runway reopened shortly before 3:30 p.m., and the north runway opened about 7:45 p.m.

"We don't operate a runway unless we're at 100 percent," Meyer said.

A total of 101 people were on board the plane. The Broward County Aviation Department was working with airport officials to reunite passengers with their belongings left on the plane during the evacuation.

Meyer said the airport's closure affected 226 flights, forcing 43 of them to be canceled.

Dynamic Airways, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, was founded in 2010. The airline said in a statement that it is "conducting an initial investigation and will issue further information once available."

According to the Aviation Safety Database, the plane involved in the incident is nearly 30 years old, and Thursday's fire marks its 45th safety incident since 1983.

The plane was removed from the taxiway late Thursday night.

A contractor was expected to be at the airport Friday morning to inspect damage to the taxiway and to schedule repairs.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending four people to investigate the fire, the agency announced on Twitter.

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10

Copyright 2015 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.