The Orioles' team charter flight bound for Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. tonight had to make an emergency landing near Jacksonville due to a fire on board, sources say.
Everyone is reportedly OK, but maybe a little shaken as the plane apparently had to make a rather rapid descent in landing. The fire was reportedly in the kitchen area, and it appears that no one with the club was injured.
The incident was confirmed by Ned Rice, of the Orioles' baseball operations department who posted this tonight on his Facebook page:
"Small fire on our team flight to Tampa Bay," he wrote. "They came on and told us we needed to make an emergency landing, and then we were nearly free falling for a few minutes as they raced to get us on the ground as fast as possible. Currently enjoying the beautiful Jacksonville, FL airport while the fire department inspects our plane. Hope this trip is worth it!"
At this point, few other details are available.
Meanwhile, the Orioles, who begin a series with the Rays Monday night, are closing in on clinching a playoff berth at this hour. Texas leads Los Angeles 8-4 in the seventh inning and, with an Angels loss, the Orioles will clinch.
The O's are in: Congrats to the Orioles. With the Angels' loss tonight, the Orioles clinched their first playoff berth since 1997.
As I posted tonight on Twitter, congrats to every O's fan that stuck with the team through 14 years of losing. You all deserve this, and there is more fun to come. See you in the playoffs.
Here is a statement from the Orioles on the incident on the plane:
Due to a minor incident in the galley, the Orioles' charter made an unscheduled landing in Jacksonville, Florida en route to St. Petersburg tonight. After the plane was inspected, all crew and passengers reboarded and flew to St. Petersburg without further incident. This unscheduled landing was done with an abundance of caution and at no time was anyone on the flight in danger.