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Woman suffers burns after cellphone catches fire in Air Canada plane

Last Updated Mar 1, 2018 at 8:29 pm EDT

A woman suffered burns to her hands after her cellphone caught fire on an Air Canada flight while it sat on the tarmac in Toronto, the airline said Thursday.

The incident happened around 7 a.m. as the plane was at the gate before its scheduled departure to Vancouver from Pearson International Airport, said Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick said the fire was immediately put out and the plane’s 266 passengers did not have to evacuate.

“It was very contained,” he said. “However customers seated around the incident were invited to deplane so we could clean up the residue from the extinguisher.”

Paramedics said the woman suffered from first-degree burns and was transported to a local hospital.

The flight was able to take off for Vancouver after a two-hour delay, Fitzpatrick said.

Toronto Coun. Joe Cressy was on the flight. He told CityNews initial fears were quickly stamped out by fast-acting Air Canada staff.

“We heard some screaming in the back and I looked around and saw smoke coming up, which of course was unnerving because your mind goes to the worst,” he said in a phone interview.

“The staff at Air Canada had everybody stay in their seats and rushed down with fire extinguishers.”

Cressy added that the incident does raise safety questions.

“Had we been in air and not on the ground it would have been … a more significant cause for concern.”

The plane, one of the airline’s new Boeing 787 dreamliner models, did not sustain any damage in the incident.

Robin Smith, a spokesman for the airport’s operator, said that while they haven’t heard of any phone-related fires at Pearson in the past year, phones catching fire are not entirely unheard of.

“In general terms, they’re not uncommon, because there have had to be rules made for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7,” said Smith, referencing a phone that was recently banned from certain flights because of a risk of catching fire.

“Lithium battery volatile problems are enough of an issue that it’s a common topic of discussion and you see photos popping up online.”

Peel police said the cellphone involved in Thursday’s incident was made by LG Electronics Inc.

With a file from News Staff