SWA plane catches fire at Hobby

May 13, 2009 2:37:25 PM PDT
A Southwest Airlines plane landed with flames spouting underneath the aircraft after one of its rear tires caught on fire.[WATCH: See exclusive video of the fiery landing]
[WATCH: Passengers describe the landing]
[PHOTOS: See images from the landing]

Southwest Airlines said the brake locked on the right rear tire and when it hit the ground the friction caused the fire. There was no damage to the plane or the landing gear.

Those flames started under the aircraft, and got larger in the moments after the plane came to a stop Tuesday evening at Hobby Airport.

Minutes later, fire crews arrived to put out the fire, and the passengers jumped down an emergency slide, evacuating the plane one at a time. The passengers stood in a grassy median until they were taken back to the terminal.

Southwest flight 519 departed New Orleans at 6:44pm CT with 47 passengers and five crew members headed to Houston. The 737 was scheduled to land at 7:49pm and actually landed around 7:45pm.

"We didn't notice anything was wrong until they asked us to get off the plane quickly and then we realized something was wrong and didn't realize until we got off, looked back and saw the tire was on fire," said passenger Dana Watts.

Upon landing, one of the plane's right rear tires blew out and caught fire. An emergency was declared and as firefighters shot water at the flames, passengers and crew slid down an emergency exit ramp on the rear left side of the plane.

"We landed. It was extremely bumpy, so I talked to one of the other passengers, 'Do you think it's a flat tire?' 'Probably so'," said passenger Cathy Nguyen. "The pilot came on and said, 'Get out, get out, get out' and I was the first one out because I was on row 1."

"When I saw them running around, I was, like 'OK, something's really bad," added passenger Christine Bordenage.

The fire was put out in minutes and no serious injuries were reported, only two minor injuries from coming down the slide. One person was transported to SE Memorial with an ankle injury. The other was treated at the airport for a knee injury.

According to the FAA, there were no reports of any issues with the landing gear prior to landing. FAA officials say this type of thing does happen but it is rare.

Airline officials say the plane is expected to be back in service by the end of the week.

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