Passengers escape burning jet in Denver; 38 hurt


DENVER – Firefighters said it was like something out of a movie – passengers emerging from a smoke-filled ravine where the remains of a Boeing 737 lay in flames, its landing gear and left engine shorn off.

Denver Fire Department Division Chief Patrick Hynes called it “surreal.” The fire burned the entire right side of the plane, and melted plastic from overhead compartments dripped onto the seats below.

Thirty-eight people suffered injuries including broken bones, and two were in critical condition with fractures after the Saturday evening accident, officials said.

Passenger Mike Wilson of Denver described a chaotic scramble to leave the burning plane on updates he posted on Twitter.com from the airport using his cell phone.

“By the time the plane stopped we were burning pretty well and I think I could feel the heat even through the bulkhead and window,” he wrote. “I made for the exit door as quickly as I could, fearing the right wing might explode from the fire. Once out, I scrambled down the wing.”

The 107 passengers and five crew members made it out through slides, and firefighters put out blaze quickly, said airport spokesman Jeff Green.

By P. SOLOMON BANDA, Associated Press Writer