September 4, 2008

Fire Extinguisher Clogs LAX Traffic

By Art Marroquin

The accidental discharge of a fire extinguisher aboard a bus at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday prompted a response from a hazardous materials crew and closure of most traffic lanes.

Airport officials said a man was boarding an LAX Fly-Away bus parked in front of Terminal One when his bag hit the extinguisher, causing it to loudly discharge a white powdery substance.

It was unclear how many people were on the bus during the 10:45 a.m. incident, but they were all evacuated safely and questioned by authorities, said Nancy Castles, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles World Airports.

"There was clearly no fire and there was clearly no explosion," Castles said. "They heard a loud noise, which could have been mistaken for an explosion."

A hazardous materials crew from the Los Angeles Fire Department cleaned up the dry flame retardant powder that was expelled from the extinguisher, she said.

Three of the five traffic lanes on the airport's lower roadway were closed for more than an hour, but the upper roadway remained open. Airport operations and flights remained on schedule, Castles said.

The LAX FlyAway bus system shuttles airport passengers to and from LAX, stopping at Union Station, Van Nuys Airport and Westwood. It was unclear which route the bus was scheduled to take at the time of the blast.

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