SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Transportation Security Administration is hailing one of its officers who recently removed a smoking bag at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
The incident occurred on July 20 when a passenger began yelling across the airport that a bag was smoking.
TSA officials say Lead Officer Darrell Wade jumped into action, quickly grabbing the bag and taking it outside the terminal. They say it was Wade's quick thinking that saved passengers from a potentially dangerous situation in the busy checkpoint area.
Turns out, the item was a malfunctioning vape battery.
Wade tells us he thought it was just smoke at first, but then quickly realized the bag was actually on fire. He ran up a stairwell, which he knew to be a concrete structure and the best place to keep a fire contained. He has only worked as a TSA agent for a year-and-a-half and says this was the craziest incident he's had to handle.
"I just really wanted everyone else to be safe. At that moment, I can honestly say I wasn't thinking of me getting injured or anything else," Wade said. "I just wanted everyone else at the checkpoint, all of the officers, to be safe, all of the passengers to be safe. I saw a threat and I decided to take it out of the path of the passengers."
E-cigarettes have a history of exploding or catching on fire. In fact, some people have been killed because of it. Because of the potential dangers and risks, E-cigarettes are only allowed to be among carry-on items, and this incident shows us why. Can you imagine if that had been in a checked bag and was put in the belly of a plane?
TSA is reminding passengers that if you are flying with an E-cigarette, you should make sure it's with you when you board the plane and not inside any checked luggage.