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Fire prompts evacuation at OIA ticket counter

10:26 PM, Aug 4, 2013   |    comments
Hundreds wait as #fire causes delays at Orlando International Airport. Photo courtesy of WESH
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ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH) -- A fire ignited in a baggage carousel at the United Airlines ticket counter at Orlando International Airport on Sunday afternoon.

The fire triggered an evacuation of that area of the third floor of the terminal on the B side because of the smoke.

Orlando International Airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said no one was injured in the incident. She said departing passengers were moved to the second level.  

The fire was reported about 4:30 p.m. Officials said it was extinguished about 45 minutes later.  

"Initially, black water just started coming down the ceiling," said Sid Clevinger, who pulled the fire alarm.

"People were running, screaming, '911.' The roof caved in, water started squirting out, sparks were flying," said witness Jerry Johnson.

"Flames shot out, and then we were told to run outside," said Dawn Mistry, who is traveling from New York.

"I was the one person that left the crowd because I really didn't want to die at the Orlando airport," said Deneen Hermis, who is traveling from San Francisco.

Firefighters moved quickly and K9 units were scattered to assess the damage.

"It was equipment failure. It could have been a motor that sparked it in some type of way," said OIA Deputy Executive Director Ronald Lewis.

More than 100 passengers were rerouted to Baggage Claim 32.  But the damage and disruption the fire caused had travelers scrambling for information about their flights.

"I think it's a nightmare," said Hermis.

"(We're missing) the connecting flight from North Carolina. We flew from Memphis," said traveler Derrick Robinson.

"There were delays because they were not operating at that time to check people in. We had to make adjustments," said Lewis.

Baggage had to be rerouted, and U.S. Airways United and Spirit Airlines experienced delays, forcing passengers to come up with a game plan.

The extent of damage and cause of the fire is being investigated. Crews are working to repair damage to the ceiling, mop up water and clean carpets.

"The water damage is going to take a few days (to repair)," said Lewis.


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