Ithaca, N.Y. — A false alarm on a plane Sunday morning forced it to make an emergency landing at the Ithaca airport and drew a large emergency response, according to airport staff.

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A smoke alarm went off in the bathroom of a United Airlines carrier flight to Newark, sending dozens of firefighters and other law enforcement agencies to the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport at around 11 a.m.

There was no fire in the bathroom and nobody was found smoking inside of it, according to Mike Hall, manager of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.

“With any indication of a possible fire while airborne, the only proper response is to declare an emergency … and check it out,” Hall said.

Hall said it’s important to take every precaution in the event of an alarm.

“With that size airplane it becomes a full alarm response — you play to the worst case for good reason, and almost always it turns out not to be that serious, which was the case this morning,” Hall said.

“I talked to the crew; they were very pleased with how everything went.”

Firefighters responded from Ithaca, Cayuga Heights, Varna, Lansing, and Dryden, according to the Tompkins County 911 Dispatch Center.

The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and Bangs Ambulance were also called to the scene.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.