JetBlue flight B6-662 from Barbados successfully landed at New York airport from Barbados and followed the escort car to the parking lot at the exit to Terminal 5. At that moment, the flight attendant noticed smoke in the cabin.
The source of the smoke was discovered fairly quickly — it turned out to be a switched off laptop of one of the passengers.
Due to fears of a serious fire, the crew ordered an emergency evacuation of the aircraft. Most of the 133 passengers on board the Airbus A320 managed to run out to the terminal via a telescopic ladder, while the rear of the cabin was evacuated using emergency slides to the airfield.
The New York Airport Authority reported that seven passengers were in during the evacuation received minor injuries, but no one went to the hospital.
Burning portable gadgets can be potentially very dangerous due to the risk of “thermal runaway”; in the lithium-ion batteries that power these devices. Once the thermal runaway process kicks in, a fire is inevitable.
Overheated batteries can produce sparks, fire, and a lot of smoke.
Despite the potential danger, airlines insist that lithium battery-powered devices were transported in the cabin, but in the luggage compartment, since it is even more difficult to contain a fire there.
In August 2021, an Alaska Airlines flight from New Orleans to Seattle Airport was evacuated using emergency slides to the airfield shortly after landing in a similar incident, when a passenger's mobile phone caught fire.
At that time, the flight attendants managed to hide the mobile phone in a special fire-fighting bag, but the evacuation order still followed because the device emitted too much smoke into the cabin.