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LIGHTERS CATCH FIRE AT BOB HOPE AIRPORT.

Byline: Jason Kandel Staff Writer

BURBANK - A federal airport security worker was injured Wednesday when a collection of butane cigarette lighters taken from airline passengers caught fire in an office at the Bob Hope Airport.

Part of a terminal was cleared as a precaution for about 10 minutes after the 10:15 a.m. fire in a security office near Gate A6 in the east concourse.

``This falls under the category of a minor and freak accident,'' said Bob Hope Airport spokesman Victor Gill.

The unidentified TSA worker suffered cuts in the burst of fire that occurred when he dropped a 20-gallon drum containing a month's worth of lighters collected from passengers.

The worker was treated at a local hospital and released. The incident caused no flight delays, officials said.

The lighters are banned from airliners under post-Sept. 11 security rules.

Officials suspect that the container had accumulated vapors from the lighters, and when the worker dropped the bin, it caused the vapors to ignite, officials said.

``It was a quick burst,'' said TSA spokesman Nico Melendez. ``Nobody got burned.''

Firefighters were called, the flare-up was out quickly and the employee was treated for his wounds. Another worker was treated for symptoms of an anxiety attack, Gill said.

After the incident, Transportation Security Administration officials changed the policy of having their employees collect hazardous materials picked up during security screenings. Now, contractors will be responsible for storing the items in well-ventilated areas outside, and TSA employees will no longer handle the stored items, Melendez said.

Jason Kandel, (818) 546-3306

jason.kandel(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 25, 2005
Words:264
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