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In April 2014, a passenger checked in four bags for a Fiji Airways flight from Melbourne, Victoria, to Nadi, Fiji. The passenger stated during check-in that there were no batteries in their checked bags.
The aircraft was at Melbourne Airport and the passengers‘ bags were being loaded. A ground engineer observed white billowing smoke emanating from the aft cargo hold.

The ARFF determined that the source of the smoke was a smouldering case. The ARFF and Australian Federal Police subsequently inspected all four of the bags checked in by the passenger and found 19 batteries intact and an additional 6-8 that were destroyed by the fire. Initial investigation revealed that an electrical short circuit involving lithium batteries caused the fire. Contained in the case were several batteries and an RPA controller. This incident highlights the hazards associated with transporting lithium batteries and the need to individually protect batteries to prevent short circuits and minimise the risk of overheating and fire.
Source: Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 34
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