EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso firefighters initiated a triage and hazmat response after a plane made an emergency landing Thursday evening at El Paso International Airport with numerous passengers reported to be nauseous after being overcome by unknown fumes.
The Frontier Airlines flight, containing over 200 passengers, landed about 7:30 p.m. and went to gate B-10. An ABC-7 crew at the scene observed several passengers taken off the plane by stretchers and loaded into ambulances; in all, six people were being treated for possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Emergency dispatchers said that all of those patients refused to be transported to the hospital.
The flight originated in Las Vegas and was headed to San Antonio after being delayed 30 minutes for a leaky fuel line to be fixed, according to passengers. Those passengers told ABC-7 that they smelled strong chemical fumes midway through the flight, which prompted the emergency landing in El Paso.
"When they opened the window of the plane, there was just, you could see all the ambulances -- yeah, dozens of ambulances, fire department and everything. Scared us to death. And then they told us, this is a quote, 'if anyone else feels nauseous, sick to your stomach, please come to the front of the plane. Everyone else remain seated,'" passenger Dee Hart told ABC-7.
Firefighters set up a command post on the eastside of the terminal; at least a half-dozen rescue squads responded to the scene. Hazardous material crews made entry to the plane with monitors to examine the air quality situation.
Frontier Airlines released the following statement to ABC-7 on Thursday night about the incident...
"Flight 2074 from Las Vegas to San Antonio was diverted to El Paso as a result of both a passenger medical emergency and a fume event. The aircraft landed safely in El Paso. Customers remain in the airport at this time and are being provided food and will be re-accommodated on an alternate aircraft arriving from Denver later this evening which will transport them to their original destination of San Antonio. They are also being provided a $200 travel voucher for future use as a gesture of goodwill for their inconvenience."