Frightful flight: Plane headed to Pittsburgh makes emergency landing after battery ignites on board

PITTSBURGH — A plane on its way to Pittsburgh filled with smoke and had to make an emergency landing on Friday.

Breeze Airways flight 555 plane was heading to Pittsburgh from Los Angeles when the cabin began to fill with smoke.

“All of the sudden we looked up and you could see the white smoke just basically clouding the whole front of the aircraft,” passenger Stephen Cagnazzi said. “You couldn’t even see past the smoke.”

The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“You could tell that the pilot, I don’t know if it was the pilot that made the announcement or the copilot made the announcement, but you could tell they were on oxygen,” Cagnazzi said.

Breeze Airways said a lithium-ion battery ignited and injured a passenger.

The FAA said incidents like this are on the rise. The number of lithium-ion battery fires jumped 40% in the last two years.

There were 63 battery fires on passenger planes last year.

“They did an incredible job in handling the situation. That could have turned out pretty bad as far as I was concerned,” Cagnazzi said.

As for Cagnazzi, he’s hoping to make it home from New Mexico this weekend.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of people back in Pittsburgh waiting for the people to come in on that flight and if they find out what’s happening or make sure that everyone’s okay, I think that was the most important thing.”

Breeze Airways sent us the following statement:

“Breeze Airways flight 555 diverted to Albuquerque after a lithium-ion battery ignited in a guest’s possession while en route to Pittsburgh from Los Angeles International Airport. The device was quickly contained by the crew and the aircraft landed safely at approximately 3:30 p.m. MT.

“Medical personnel met the plane on arrival and one guest was treated for injuries.

“We are grateful for the swift actions of our crew and are focused on the continued care and safety of our Guests and Crew.”

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW