Eastern Iowa Airport fire: Passengers describe scene - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa Airport fire: Passengers describe scene

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Bob Greenwood was flying out of the Eastern Iowa Airport on his way to a conference when he and his wife had to de-board the plane due to a fire in the back.

"They did a great job of evacuating," said Greenwood, who lives in Waterloo. "Everybody came off the plane calm. The steps were there. There was help from the ground crew of getting people down the steps and off the plane."

Public safety officers say the fire was in the auxiliary power unit, or APU. That's a piece of equipment near the tail of the plane that powers the electrical systems.

Crews shut off power to the APU and the fire went out -- thanks to the employees' training.

"We've all gone through airport firefighting school and have monthly training and then annual re-certification for aircraft firefighting," said Kenneth Washburn, public safety commander at the Eastern Iowa Airport.

Public safety officers respond to planes when safety sensors are triggered. While actual fires are rare, they do happen.

"Occasionally we've had a few, like today," said Washburn. "But not very often."

Greenwood was glad the three crew members and the other 49 passengers were all able to get off the plane safely.

He's a frequent flier, but this was a new experience.

"I've flown probably a million miles on various airlines over the past 20, 25 years, and have never had anything like this happen before," said Greenwood.

The Delta flight was heading to Detroit.

Some travelers, like Greenwood and his wife, booked new flights from other airports. Others waited for a new flight out of Cedar Rapids.

The plane was taken in for maintenance and repairs.

Officials aren't sure what started the fire.
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