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Allegiant Air's problems continue with engine fire in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — A California-bound Allegiant Air flight was evacuated in Las Vegas after an engine caught fire on the tarmac, the second plane fire at the airport in as many months and the latest in a string of issues for the low-fare carrier.

Allegiant Air flight 516 was preparing to take off for Fresno at McCarran International Airport on Sunday afternoon when a fire was reported in the right engine.

None of the 160 passengers and six crew members was injured. All were bused back to the terminal and passengers were put on a different plane that later departed Las Vegas.

The airline said the pilot aborted takeoff and reported the fire as the plane was rolling down the runway after indications of a mechanical issue. The plane taxied to a remote area and was met by firefighters.

Christine Crews, a McCarran spokeswoman, said 11 firefighters put out the fire within 30 seconds of the response.

Mike Scott of Fresno, Calif., posted video to his Facebook page from inside the plane as firefighters douse the jet with water. His post said the plane's crew said it was just a precaution.

Fire trucks dousing our plane while the crew tries to tell us there's nothing wrong.Posted by Mike Scott on Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fire trucks dousing our plane while the crew tries to tell us there's nothing wrong.

Scott told KSVN-Channel 10 in Las Vegas that he heard a loud noise and felt a jolt.

"I thought we had run over something that's what it felt like but immediately the pilot slammed on the brake and we came to a stop," Scott said. "The pilot later told us that we were going over 100 miles per hour when whatever happened happened."

He told the station that passengers didn't know what was really happening until they deplaned and got back to the terminal.

"The pilot was on the intercom telling us 'hey there's nothing wrong, don't' worry' and I'm looking out the window seeing the plane being doused, the firetrucks coming and the plane being surrounded by emergency vehicles," Scott said.

The airline said it is conducting an investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is gathering information but has not launched an investigation.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 plane registered to the carrier was built in 1991.

Sunday's fire is the latest in a string of issues for the Vegas-based company in recent months and comes after a British Airways plane caught fire at the airport in September.

A British Airways' London-bound plane halted on the runway as it was preparing to take off on Sept. 8 after an engine caught fire. All 157 passengers and 13 crew members survived, some with minor injuries.

For Allegiant, a possible maintenance issue was cited in September when a flight from Bismarck, N.D., to Las Vegas was diverted to an airport in southern Utah. Another Allegiant flight made an emergency landing in July at a closed airport in Fargo, N.D., after company executives piloting the aircraft reported they were nearly out of fuel.

In June, flights at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in Florida were canceled after one of its planes was forced to make an emergency landing because of pressurization problems.

Allegiant has become a major player in Pinellas County tourism. The airline targets mid-sized cities in the Midwest and now accounts for about 95 percent of the airport's traffic.

The airline defended its safety record Monday, saying in a statement: "Safety is, above all, our top priority. Our safety record remains among the best in the industry."

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