Flight Passengers Panic After Bird Enters Engine, Sparking Fire During Takeoff in New Jersey

spirit airlines
File photo, Getty Images

“Once people started screaming ‘fire,’ it was definitely mayhem,” one passenger tells Inside Edition. Another man was traveling with his elderly mother and said it was "horrifying" to watch her exit the plane on the slide.

Passengers aboard a Spirit Airlines flight were evacuated after a bird was sucked into the engine, igniting a fire as the plane barreled down the runway at Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey.

Footage from inside the cabin shows just how scared passengers were as they tried to get off the plane.

“Fire! The plane’s on fire! The plane’s on fire!” a passenger says.

A flight attendant tried to calm the passengers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the fire trucks are on their way. You don't have to get up. Please remain seated. Please remain seated,” she says.

Flames and thick black smoke pour from one engine as the pilot makes an announcement. 

“Evacuate! Evacuate! Evacuate! The right-hand engine has caught on fire. We hit a bird on takeoff,” he said over the intercom. 

Passengers lined up for their turn on the emergency chute.

Then, the passenger shooting video of the ordeal made it to the door. He exits safely and points the camera back toward the plane. In all the confusion, a bewildered small dog runs around.

Pasquale Iemma was flying with his 98-year-old mother Domenica. 

“We were the last off. I looked at the flight attendants who weren't far away from me, and they were like sir, sir. I said ‘No, no, let everybody off, we will get off when everybody's off. I need help with my mother,” Iemma said, adding that it was “horrifying” to see his elderly mother going down the slide.

Brain Ditman was also onboard.

“Once people started screaming ‘fire,’ it was definitely mayhem,” Ditman said.

In a statement, Spirit Airlines commended their crew for handling the situation “swiftly and safely.” They also gave the passengers full refunds. 

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