Travelers Return to JFK Terminal After Kitchen Fire Forces Partial Evacuation

What to Know

  • A fire broke out in the kitchen of a Chinese buffet in Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport on Thursday afternoon
  • The fire sent smoke into the terminal and forced a partial evacuation
  • The fire was brought under control less than an hour later; no injuries were reported

Travelers began to return to a terminal at Kennedy Airport on Thursday evening, a couple hours after a restaurant kitchen fire forced a partial evacuation of the terminal and shut down security screening. 

Alarms were no longer sounding and the smoke began to clear around 5:30 p.m., but security lines were out the door as travelers returned to Terminal 4. 

A fire broke out in the kitchen of Panda Express, a Chinese buffet, around 3:30 p.m., spewing smoke throughout the terminal, according to Port Authority, which operates the airport. 

The blaze started as a grease fire at the Panda Express, although the exact cause of the fire isn't yet known, Port Authority said. 

In one video, flames could be seen shooting from the kitchen of Panda Express as travelers funneled out of the terminal. 

Officials said there was a heavy smoke condition at Gate B23, and photos show smoke filling part of the terminal as firefighters douse the blaze from the terminal's roof.

"Extremely smoky in Terminal 4.  Fire alarms blaring. Never seen anything like this," Katie Little wrote on Twitter during the evacuation. 

Witnesses described a smoky smell in the terminal as a haze of smoke filled gates and stores. Large crowds were seen at check-in areas of the terminal, which serves international travelers. 

No injuries have been reported. 

Firefighters were seen standing outside Panda Express after the fire was put out around 4 p.m. 

A short time later, an announcement was made that gates would be reopened to travelers and security screening would begin. Screening was eventually reopened around 4:30 p.m. 

The terminal was still experiencing delays at security checkpoints, some if it caused by extra security in place for the Trump administration's new travel ban.

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