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Spirit Airlines Flight Evacuated At LaGuardia Airport Due To Generator Issue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Spirit Airlines plane was evacuated and fire crews were called in at LaGuardia Airport Saturday morning, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

The Port Authority said Spirit Flight 197 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was deplaned just before 11 a.m., CBS2 reported.

Brooklyn resident Zach Staggers was on the plane when he and his brother spotted something scary outside, WCBS 880's Stephanie Colombini reported.

"We boarded the plane, we were sitting at the gate and then all of a sudden there were huge plume of white smoke coming outside the window," he said. "For a second, I was like 'Oh my God, the gas is going to catch and the plane's going to explode.'"

 

Spirit Airlines Flight Evacuated At LaGuardia
A crowded gate at LaGuardia Airport after passengers were evacuated from a Spirit Airlines flight on Dec. 26, 2015 (credit: Zach Staggers)

Thankfully, that did not happen, but all 228 passengers and seven crew members were suddenly evacuated -- told to leave their bags and deplane immediately, CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported.

"It was as if you yelled 'fire!' in a crowded theater," Staggers said. "Everybody got up really quick and there was a brief panic, people are running toward the doors. I saw a guy jumped over some chairs."

Fire trucks and emergency crews rushed in, but there was no fire and no injuries were reported.

Spirit Airlines said sparks were actually reported in the auxiliary power unit, a generator that provides electricity to the plane while it's on the ground. The airline said the generator detected the sparks and immediately shut itself off.

Passengers finally got their belongings back in the chaos and once everything was checked out, they got back on board the same plane about five hours later and finally headed to Florida.

In a statement, Spirit Airlines apologized to the customers for the inconvenience.

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