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‘Just instinct': Retired N.Y. firefighter helps put out blaze on Spirit Airlines flight

Rocco Chierichella and some Spirit crewmembers doused the overhead compartment with water and fire extinguisher spray

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Spirit Airlines jets sit on the tarmac at the Orlando International Airport in 2020. On Wednesday, a fire broke out on a Spirit Airlines flight from Dallas to Orlando.

File photo/Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

By Leila Merrill
FireRescue1/EMS1

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A retired New York City firefighter helped to put out a fire on a Spirit Airlines flight from Dallas to Orlando on Wednesday.

As the plane was nearing its destination, passengers noticed smoke coming from an overhead compartment in the cabin. The retired firefighter, Rocco Chierichella, and some airline crewmembers jumped into action and doused the overhead compartment with water and fire extinguisher spray.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to be a hero or anything,” Chierichella told Action News Jax. “It’s just instinct.”

The plane made an emergency landing in Jacksonville.

Firefighters say the fire may have been started by a battery in a carry-on.

A total of 10 people were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Chierichella suffered minor burns on one hand, WFTV 9 reported.

“It’s blistering – it’s a bunch of blisters on this finger, it will be fine. That we can recover from,” he said.

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