Friday, May 16, 2008

Flight attendant allegedly sets fire to aircraft lavatory

newspaper iconThis is just mind boggling: Remember the recent story about the in-flight fire in a lavatory on a Compass Airlines plane? It turns out that one of the flight attendants working the flight allegedly set the fire intentionally.

When the news broke yesterday I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a sensationalized rumor. But now the Associated Press is reporting that not only has the young man been arrested, but he also has confessed to the FBI that he started the fire. In fact, he made his first court appearance yesterday, and has been ordered held without bail.

The AP article, citing court documents as a source, claims that the 19-year old flight attendant "told authorities he was upset at the airline for making him work the route." He brought a lighter on board the flight he was working. The lighter was later found inside an overhead bin. Court documents say that as "he was preparing his cart to serve the passengers, he set the cart up, went back to the lavatory and reached in with his right hand and lit the paper towels with the lighter."

A short time later an indicator was activated on the flight deck, showing smoke near the rear lavatory. A pilot alerted the flight attendant to check the lavatory. Both flight attendants then used fire extinguishers to put out the fire. Yes, that's right -- the flight attendant who allegedly started the fire then had a heroic role in extinguishing it.

The aircraft, which had been en route from Minneapolis to Regina, Saskatchewan, diverted to Fargo for an emergency landing. Fortunately no one on board the aircraft was injured.

The thoughtless bonehead flight attendant has been formally charged with setting fire aboard a civil aircraft. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

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