A backpack caught fire Tuesday in the cargo area at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, leading to an evacuation, but authorities said the flames were likely caused by heat from a conveyor belt. The bag contained no explosives or other banned items, just leaking toiletries.
Phoenix police Lt. Rick Gehlbach said the backpack likely began to smoke after it got jammed between two larger pieces of luggage on a conveyor belt.
The impact probably caused toiletries containing alcohol to leak, and a combination of heat from the conveyor belt and its track rubbing against the backpack caused it to catch fire, Gehlbach said.
The fire was extinguished quickly, Gehlbach said.
About 10 a.m., a baggage handler loading bags on the US Airways plane noticed that the backpack was hot and set it aside. The fire department was called when the bag began to smoke, and they in turn called in a hazardous materials team as a precaution.
"When the bomb squad arrived, everything was melted in the bag," said Victor Rangel, a spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department.
Rangel said the backpack contained hairspray and other toiletries.
The gate area was evacuated as a precaution. The plane, bound for San Antonio, was taken to another gate, and passengers were allowed to board Flight 200 after about an hour's delay. The bag's owner was questioned by police and allowed back on the flight.
US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder said no other flights were affected.