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Mike Nowatzki, Published May 08 2008

Bathroom fire forces flight to make emergency landing at Fargo airport; FBI investigating

UPDATED 11:50 a.m.

The FBI is investigating the cause of a bathroom fire that forced a Compass Airlines jet to make an emergency landing Wednesday at Fargo’s Hector International Airport.

None of the 69 passengers aboard the 76-seat jet was injured when the plane landed at 10:44 p.m. without incident, Northwest Airlines spokesman Paul Skrbec said.

Compass Airlines is a subsidiary of Northwest.

The airplane, an Embraer 175, had been headed from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Regina, Saskatchewan.

Passengers were held in the departure lounge until they could be interviewed by the FBI and Fargo police, said Shawn Dobberstein, Hector Airport’s executive director.

After being interviewed, passengers were allowed to reclaim their luggage. Some stayed at the airport, while others went to area hotels or restaurants and were provided shuttle service back to the airport, Dobberstein said.

“Northwest did a great job re-accommodating those passengers,” he said.

The passengers flew back to Minneapolis Thursday morning to be rebooked on flights to Regina, Dobberstein said.

Passengers said it was a scary ordeal and credited two flight attendants with quickly extinguishing the fire and getting passengers into the first-class section of the plane where the smoke was not as heavy.

“I fell asleep and I woke up to beeping, and when I turned around, the attendants were battling a fire,” said passenger Meagan Brown of Regina. “It was scary.”

FBI spokesman Paul McCabe said this morning the agency is in the early stages of its investigation into the cause of the fire, and no one has been arrested or detained.

The jet remains at Hector Airport this morning, awaiting the arrival of representatives from Compass Airlines, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Flight Standards District Office, Dobberstein said.

“It’ll stay here until they do whatever it is they need to do,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528