Engineers are still working to establish what it was that caused the cabin of a British Airways Boeing 747-400 jet to fill with smoke just as it was preparing to take off from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona.
Over 300 passengers were on British Airways Flight 288 as it left the departure gate, bound for London Heathrow Airport, when smoke began to appear in the cabin, forcing them to evacuate the plane by emergency slides, along with the plane's crew.
Firefighters and emergency medical personnel were called to the incident which happened at approximately 8 pm local time. There were no serious injuries as a result of the incident although one person did attend a hospital complaining of pains in their shoulder and some 15 others were treated for minor cuts and bruises.
One person who witnessed the situation first hand was passenger Corinne Casazza. The Press Association carried a report in which she described her experience:There was this really strong smell of fuel and I could hear people panicking behind me. They were upset and finding it hard to breathe because of the smell. People were coughing and choking and those with children were very worried and so they brought them to the front where they could breathe. We asked if we could open the doors but were told we couldn't because we were still moving. There was a lot of pushing and shoving - everyone just wanted to get off the plane. Then I heard someone yell 'fire' and the doors were opened
Whilst the attending fire crews encountered smoke in both the cabin and the hold there was no evidence of a fire. CNN quotes Capt. Shelly Jamison of the Phoenix Fire Department as suggesting that an electrical fault may have been to blame.
British Airways confirmed that they were assisting with accommodation for passengers affected by the incident.