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Plane Catches Fire At Allegheny County Airport

Small Plane Doused In Foam After Fire On Runway

POSTED: 1:03 pm EDT April 5, 2010
UPDATED: 7:17 am EDT April 6, 2010

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Firefighters were called to the Allegheny County Airport on Monday afternoon after a small plane caught fire.

Sky 4 flew over the scene just before 1 p.m. and saw firefighters spraying foam on the small Beechcraft Bonanza model as it sat on what appeared to be a runway or taxiway.

"He had smoke coming from the foot well of the aircraft on the pilot's side. At that point, they decided to declare an alert," said David Shaw, director of the Allegheny County Airport.

Shaw said firefighters were able to douse the flames within minutes.

Joann Jenny, a spokeswoman for the county Airport Authority, told Channel 4 Action News that the plane was taxiing and getting ready to depart when the pilot reported smoke inside the cockpit.

Spokesman Jeff Martinelli said the smoke came from an electrical fire. The plane's pilot and passenger both got out safely, WTAE Channel 4's Tara Edwards reported.

Patrick McGeough, a retired pilot with 25 years of experience, told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that he has gone through a similar situation.

"The first thing to do is you turn off electrical systems to hopefully isolate where the fire is coming from to prevent it from actually igniting into a full-fledged fire. Turning off master switch will shut off all electrical systems," he said.

"If he had had been up in the air, it's not like you're driving down the road. You can't pull off on the side of the road," Shaw said. "It's a good thing it happened on the ground and not in the air."

"If this would have happened in the air, it would have been a little bit scarier. You would have had to isolate the fire before it got too far. They do have a fire extinguisher on board the airplane, but if you have to do that its not going to be easy to breathe. They don't have oxygen masks on the small airplanes."

The plane was in a private hangar Monday night and was being inspected by the Federal Aviation Administration, Edwards reported. The plane was deemed a total loss.

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