19-Year-Old Was Angry With Route Assignment
An in-flight fire onboard a Compass Airlines regional flight
from Minneapolis to Regina, Saskatchewan earlier this month was
apparently the result of a young flight attendant's temper
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports Eder Rojas, 19, admitted he
deliberately started a fire in the rear lavatory of the Embraer 175
during the May 7 flight, because he was upset the airline made him
work that route.
The flames forced Flight 2040 to divert to Fargo, ND, where it
made an uneventful emergency landing. None of the 72 passengers and
four crewmembers onboard were injured, though they were questioned
by FBI agents and police upon arrival.
It was during those interrogations the picture started to come
together. Rojas was initially credited with helping to put out the
fire, along with another flight attendant and a passenger... but
reports soon emerged the young FA had acted strangely when the
alarms first sounded.
Passenger Ryan Boughen said Rojas stood in the aisle at least 30
seconds after the alarms sounded, before he took action. "I yelled
that I smelled smoke and eventually he did go back there to check
it out," Boughen said. "He peeked into the bathroom and I saw this
yellowish-greyish smoke pour out the top of the door and then he
closed the door right away."
According to a District Court complaint, Rojas stuffed an extra
packet of paper towels in the lav's dispenser just before the
flight left Minneapolis. Rojas later told authorities he reached
into the lav and lit the towels on fire before starting beverage
An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives confirmed the fire was "intentionally set inside the
napkin/paper towel compartment, with the most likely ignition point
being an extra packet of paper towels in the compartment."
If convicted, Rojas could be fined and sentenced to up to 20
years in prison. Needless to say, he's already been fired from