Crews Train for Disaster at Lansing Airport

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What if a commercial airplane burst into flames as it landed?

It's a scary thing to think about, but that's exactly what local emergency agencies spent the day training for.

It wasn't your ordinary structure fire at Capital Region International Airport Thursday morning--- a plane engulfed in flames with dozens of people trapped inside.

"A jet fuel fire can burn at 2,000 degrees, where as a structure fire is around 1,200 to 1,400 degrees, so it's hotter", says Mark Garnsey, Police and Fire Chief of the Capital Regional Airport Authority. "Not that it's going to be anymore dangerous, but you usually don't have jet fuel surrounding people trapped in a house fire."

The scene on the airport runway wasn't real, but part of a disaster drill required by the FAA every three years, to test response for several police and fire departments.

"That's what this is all about, to get better at what we do and with repetition comes competence and confidence", says Garnsey.

Thursday's training exercise wasn't just about how to get an airplane fire under control. It was also a chance for local law enforcement to learn how to set up a secure perimeter--- to keep the general public safe.

"In this day of social media, the text messages are probably going out as the plane is still in the air and they're bracing for landing", says Garnsey. "You're going to have an influx of people that want to get here and see or family members that want to be here when this goes down and that's just going to add to the confusion."

About 50 volunteers took part in the drill, and organizers say they actually had to turn people away.

"When you have that kind of support for your agency, it shows they give back to the fire services and that's an awesome thing".

Airplane traffic was not affected during Thursday's exercise.

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