ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines believes a battery that was taken out of a cell phone sparked a mid-air fire Friday.
It happened on-board flight 2557 from Norfolk, Virginia, to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant tracked down two passengers who sat just one row from where the fire started.
"I was maybe three-quarters asleep and somebody started yelling fire," said Robyn Sidersky.
Sidersky is a newspaper reporter with the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, and happened to be on-board the plane.
"Yeah, I mean, we were sitting right near the engine, so the first thing you're thinking is 'Oh, my God, the engine's on fire, what are we going to do?' We're in the air, we just took off," Sidersky told Diamant via Skype Friday.
One of Sidersky's colleagues two rows up told Diamant by phone how flight attendants sprang into action.
"It was really impressive to watch the way they took command of that cabin, they herded people up front. There was no nonsense. They were very stern, move, get out of here, move up there and they got the fire put out. They were very reassuring," said passenger Kerry Dougherty.
None of the 143 passengers got hurt, and the plane landed safely in Atlanta.
By email, a Delta representative sent a statement, saying:
"It quickly became evident that the source of the smoke was from a spare battery not affixed to a device. Delta is working to determine the source and type of the battery and will work with aviation safety officials."
Friday's mid-air fire happened less than 24-hours after cell-phone giant Samsung recalled 1 million Galaxy Note 7 phones after the feds issued a warning the device's lithium ion batteries can cause fires.
While Delta has not yet said if that same phone battery sparked this fire, the sentiment heard around Hartsfield-Jackson Friday was: "It's terrifying. It crossed my mind this morning. I don't want that to happen on my flight. I hope they check everyone's phone," passenger Sarah Middleton told Diamant.
Late Friday afternoon, the FAA announced some expanded lithium-ion battery guidelines for airlines.
Passengers with devices powered by recalled batteries may not turn them on or charge them during flights. They must disable any features that could turn them on and you can't pack them in checked luggage.
Cox Media Group