United Airlines lifts ground stop issued at IAH due to fire in employee locker room, officials say

Rosie Nguyen Image
Sunday, February 5, 2023
United lifts ground stop issued at IAH due to fire, officials say
A ground stop was issued at George Bush International Airport for United Airlines flights due to a fire Sunday morning, officials said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A small fire at George Bush Intercontinental Airport caused delays for 23 incoming United Airline flights Sunday morning.

The airline issued a ground stop between 5:30 a.m. until 7 a.m., impacting passengers who were scheduled to arrive during that time.

Passenger Melissa Gomez found out at the very last minute that her flight from Midland to Houston would be delayed.

"They delayed us a little longer. I did not know what gate we were going to because they changed it twice in mid-flight. It was a mess," Gomez said. "When you go away from home, you're ready to see your family. So yeah, it was an inconvenience to me."

The Houston Fire Department said crews received a call at about 4 a.m. of smoke coming from the first floor of the men's locker room in Terminal C. As a result, United Airlines evacuated employees and customers.

The airline requested a ground stop at 5:30 a.m. for incoming flights so that they could assess the impact. Outbound flights were not affected.

Firefighters put out the flames quickly, with no injuries reported, allowing the airline to resume normal operations by 7 a.m.

"There's a whole lot of damage from the smoke and the heat. There's not a whole lot of fire damage because it seemed like a small fire that spread over time," Brian Cresswell, with HFD, said.

Passengers Susan Harris and her husband said their takeoff from St. Louis was delayed by about 90 minutes due to the fire. They know the unexpected can happen, so they came in a day early to make sure they'll catch their cruise on time Monday.

"But so many people on our flight were making connections. There was one couple going to Guam, and they had multiple flights to catch. They were panicked and running through the concourses to get to their next flight. So hopefully, people made it," Harris said.

Crews will continue to clean up, and visitors may notice the lingering smell of smoke near Terminal C. Right now, the cause of the fire is unknown.

"We're grateful to the Houston Fire Department and Houston airport staff for their response. We are assisting customers impacted by delays," United Airlines said, in part, in a news release.

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