A lithium battery fire erupted from a woman’s cellphone onboard an Air Canada plane as it was preparing for takeoff from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Thursday, March 1.
According to CBC News, police confirmed that the lithium battery fire, described by one passenger as a “small campfire-sized flame,” stemmed from an LG cell phone.
The incident happened inside the cabin of Air Canada Flight 101 as it was on the tarmac preparing for departure to Vancouver.
Paramedics said the woman was taken to a local hospital with first-degree burn injuries on her hands. No other passengers were injured.
According to The Toronto Star, firefighters extinguished the lithium battery fire before it did any damage to the plane. Most of the plane’s 266 passengers did not have to evacuate, but those sitting in proximity to the fire were allowed to deplane while the extinguisher residue was cleaned up. The incident resulted in a two-hour delay.
According to The Star, the fire occurred on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner – an airplane model that experienced overheating and fire problems with the lithium batteries that the manufacturer installed to replace the plane’s heavier hydraulic systems.
The potential for lithium batteries to overheat and explode has led airlines and aviation regulators in North America and elsewhere to develop policies restricting the transport of the batteries and the devices they power.
In Oct. 2016, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority banned Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones from all U.S. airlines due to fire and explosion risks. Hoverboards were also barred from U.S. flights in 2015 amid multiple reports of explosions and fires caused by their lithium batteries.
Airlines are also scrambling to address risks posed by lithium batteries in a spectrum of other devices, including “smart bags” fitted with GPS, self-propelling capabilities, and other battery-powered features.
According to Consumer Reports, the FAA estimates that lithium battery fires occur on planes every 10 days. The same week as the Air Canada incident, a lithium battery burst into flames inside an overhead compartment on a China Southern Airlines flight awaiting takeoff from Guangzhou. That fire resulted in damage to the aircraft and a full evacuation.