A United flight that left San Diego headed for Newark on Tuesday morning was forced to turn around when a battery pack caught fire.

United spokeswoman Erin Jankowski says United flight 2664, a Boeing 737, left San Diego just after 7 AM but safely returned at approximately 7:50 AM.

Passenger Caroline Lipinski told KFMB TV that the first class cabin filled with smoke when the battery inside a passenger's bag began smoking. The man threw what she thought was a battery charger onto the floor, where it caught fire.  The crew immediately used fire extinguishers to put out the flames and told passengers gasping for air to turn on the air vents.

"Our crew acted quickly to contain the device and medical personnel met the aircraft upon arrival at the gate," Jankowski said.

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The FAA said in a statement the fire involved a laptop and will investigate the cause of the fire.

United flight 2664 after returning to San Diego
United flight 2664 after returning to San Diego (KFMB TV via YouTube)

Credit to the crew

The San Diego Fire Department credited the flight crew for preventing the fire from spreading by putting the device into a fire bag.

Four flight attendants were taken to a hospital as a precaution while two others refused treatment.

"We thank our crew for their quick actions in prioritizing the safety of everyone on board the aircraft and we are making arrangements to get our customers to their destinations," Jankowski said.

According to FlightAware.com, the flight left San Diego a second time at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and will arrive at 7:47 p.m.

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