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FAA warns of fire danger caused by e-cigarettes in bags

  • Bruce Asato /
    Rhonda Benigno

Electronic cigarettes, the hip alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, may pose a fire hazard when they are put in checked luggage on planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a warning to commercial airlines, suggesting that they require passengers to put e-cigarettes in carry-on bags only.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations, issued a similar recommendation in December.

The FAA warning cited an incident in August at Boston’s Logan Airport where an e-cigarette in luggage in the cargo hold of a plane caused a fire that spurred an airplane evacuation on the tarmac.

This month an e-cigarette in a checked bag that had missed its flight from Los Angeles International Airport started a fire in the airport baggage area, according to the FAA.

"These incidents and several others occurring outside of air transportation have shown that e-cigarettes can overheat and cause fires when the heating element is accidentally activated or left on," the FAA said in its safety warning.

If an e-cigarette causes a fire in a carry-on bag, the FAA said the blaze can be extinguished faster than a fire in the cargo hold.

Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation’s airlines, said in a statement that its members will "closely review the FAA safety alert."

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