Nfld. & Labrador

Suspicion of fire in cargo hold prompts emergency British Airways landing in St. John's

A British Airways Boeing 777 carrying 209 people landed safely at St. John's International Airport after leaving New York City and declaring an emergency early Tuesday morning while en route to Heathrow Airport.

All 209 people aboard are safe

A British Airways Boeing 777 en route to Heathrow from JFK airport in New York city made an emergency landing at St. John's International Airport early Tuesday. (Fred Hutton/CBC)

A British Airways Boeing 777 carrying 209 people landed safely at St. John's International Airport after declaring an emergency early Tuesday morning.

The flight was a few hours in the air — it had left JFK International Airport in New York City, heading for London's Heathrow Airport — when the pilot announced there may be a fire in the cargo area.

Everyone was pretty calm and the crew were great.- James Stirling

"We were just told pretty quickly by the captain that there'd been an alarm — a potential fire — in the forward hold, and we were diverting back to Canada, which took about an hour," said James Stirling, one of the passengers. 

Stirling said it took about an hour from the announcement to touchdown on the tarmac at the St. John's airport, around 2:30 a.m. local time.

"It's not a great situation to be in, but everyone was pretty calm and the crew were great. Didn't get a sense of real panic."

There was no fire, but crews were on scene when the plane landed. 

Those onboard were taken to local hotels for the night.

St. John's Regional Fire Department Deputy Chief Rick Mackey said his crew had dispatched 12 vehicles to the scene as a precaution.

He was happy to see the plane land without incident. 

"When we don't have to go to work, it's a good day."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Fred Hutton

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