Flight Attendant Charged With Starting Lavatory Fire In Flight

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

The FBI arrested a flight attendant this week for allegedly setting a fire in an airliner lavatory during a flight, then pretending to discover it and save the day. Johnathan Tafoya-Montano was on the job during an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Detroit on Feb. 1 when he reported a fire in a lav at the rear of the cabin. He put it out and reported it to the captain as the jet was on approach to Detroit Metropolitan, the FBI said. The captain alerted the tower to the situation and was given emergency status. The aircraft landed and parked without any further issues and there were no injuries to the crew or the unknown number of passengers. 

During an ensuing investigation, Tafoya-Montano, 23, of Texas, changed his story several times and then admitted to authorities he set the fire intentionally in the lav by igniting paper towels with a lighter, then put it out once the flames started picking up, according to a Detroit Free Press report. He went out to the hall and waited before pretending to find a fire, raising the alarm with other flight attendants and deploying an extinguisher to douse the paper towels, the report said. After appearing this week in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Tafoya-Montano was released on bond and prohibited from flying without court permission. The FBI then put him on an American flight to Dallas with a security escort, the newspaper reported. The FBI charged him with "destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities" and making false statements.