Story highlights

Plane caught fire on the taxiway and never took off

Minor injuries reported; Newark airport reopens

CNN  — 

A United flight was evacuated on the Newark Liberty International Airport tarmac Tuesday night after an engine fire was spotted by the airport’s tower, officials said.

Three people suffered minor injuries, according Neal Buccino, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The airport’s tower noticed what appeared to be flames in one of the Boeing 757-200’s Pratt & Whitney PW2000 engines as it was taxiing on the runway, United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin told CNN.

After the tower notified Flight 1579 of the fire, the flight crew deployed the plane’s slide chutes and evacuated the passengers on the tarmac. Emergency response teams came to the scene to treat minor injuries, according to Buccino.

Passenger Lo Toney said the plane caught fire on the taxiway and never took off.

“The pilot came on and said that it would take about 20 minutes as we were no.18 to take off,” he said. “Then about five to 10 minutes later we started to move and then the pilot came on the air and said ‘Flight attendants prepare to evac’.”

“The person across from me and I figured I must have misheard the pilot but he said it again,” Toney recalls. “Then the flight attendants, in a controlled but somewhat frantic manner, rushed us off the plane and we used the slide.”

Once off the plane, the flight attendants told them to run away from the plane. And they did.

All of the passengers were accounted for, and airport staff shuttled them back to the terminal, according to Guerin.

The flight was scheduled to fly to San Francisco.

“We are working to get our customers to San Francisco as soon as possible,” Guerin said in a statement.

Newark airport was closed for about an hour after the initial incident. It reopened around 11:00 pm.

Of the three minor injuries, one person reported an ankle injury, Guerin told CNN.