As smoke began filling the cabin, an airplane passenger saw sparks and fire bursting from a bag in the seat directly behind her — which turned out to be a “smoky flashing lithium battery, which had begun smoldering in a carry-on bag,” according to CBS News.

The flight crew contained the situation, and “Airport fire trucks met the plane on the runway and everyone evacuated safely.” But a CBS News Investigation “has discovered similar incidents have been happening much more frequently in the skies over the United States.”

The FAA verifies the number of lithium-Ion battery fires jumped more 42% in the last five years. A CBS News analysis of the FAA’s data found that since 2021 there’s been at least one lithium battery incident on a passenger plane somewhere in the U.S., on average, once every week…

Some airlines are taking action to control the growing number of fires. They are using specialized “thermal containment” bags designed for flight crews to use if a lithium battery starts heating up to the point where it’s smoking or burning. Mechanical engineers at the University of Texas at Austin say the bags can effectively contain fire and keep it from spreading, but don’t extinguish it.

In a video accompanying the article, an engineering professor at the university’s Fire Research Group even showed a lithium-ion battery fire that continued burning undewater. “You can’t put it out. It’s a fire within the cell. So, you’ve got fuel, oxygen, heat in the cell, all.” (The article also notes a startup called Pure Lithium is working on a new kind of non-flammable battery using lithium metal cells instead of lithium ion).

Guidelines from America’s Federal Aviation Administration require spare lithium-ion batteries be kept with passengers (and not checked) — and prohibits passengers from bringing onboard damaged or recalled batteries and battery-powered devices.

Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader khb for sharing the article.