'Unknown odor' grounds Spirit Airlines plane shortly after takeoff from BWI Airport; 7 hospitalized

Seven people were taken to a hospital after fire and rescue crews responded to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Wednesday morning to assist a Spirit Airlines flight that was having problems, according to airport and local fire officials.

The BWI Marshall Airport Fire and Rescue Department and Anne Arundel County emergency crews responded to the plane, which had taken off from BWI and was en route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The flight turned back shortly after takeoff due to an “unknown odor” on board, Spirit Airlines spokesman Derek Dombrowski, said in an email.

A precautionary alert was declared for the aircraft, which landed safely without incident at BWI and taxied to a gate, airport spokesman Jonathan Dean said.

Seven people were taken to a local hospital as a precaution, Dean said. Their conditions were not immediately available.

Dombrowski said in an email that Spirit was not aware of any passengers who were transported to medical facilities, and he declined to comment on whether the crew required medical evaluations. There were seven crew members on the flight, he said.

The Anne Arundel County Fire Department received a call from the airport asking for assistance at 7:20 a.m., fire department spokesman Capt. Russ Davies said. The call was for an “Alert 2,” indicating an aircraft is having major difficulties.

The county fire department had five units, including an engine, two medic units, a rescue unit and battalion chief on the scene, Davies said.

The aircraft was taken out of service and is being inspected, and Spirit is working to accommodate its passengers on other flights, Dombrowski said in an email.

It’s unclear how many passengers were aboard the plane.

Davies said he was not aware of the scope of the problem. He added the fire department frequently assists with incidents at the airport.

Additional information was not immediately available.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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