Disgruntled Northwest Airlink Flight Attendant Sets Fire Inside Plane

According to the AP, 19 yr-old flight attendant Eder Rojas of Woodbury, Minn., was arrested on Wednesday for intentionally setting a fire inside a paper towel compartment in the rear bathroom of the plane. Rojas told officials that he was was upset at Compass Airlines for making him work that particular route. He allegedly boarded the plane that day with extra paper towels and a lighter. Details, inside…

The article says,

Compass is a subsidiary of Northwest Airlines. Northwest spokesman Rob Laughlin said Rojas has been fired.

Rojas made his initial court appearance in Minneapolis on Thursday and was ordered held without bail pending another court date Monday, prosecutors said. The charge of setting fire aboard a civil aircraft carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

His public defender did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Authorities said Rojas asked for extra paper towels and tissue before the plane left Minneapolis. He allegedly took a lighter from another flight attendant’s home earlier that day and had it with him when he went through the security checkpoint.

“Rojas further stated that he was preparing his cart to serve the passengers, he set the cart up, went back to the lavatory and reached in with his right hand and lit the paper towels with the lighter,” court documents say.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Jordheim, who is prosecuting the case in Fargo, would not comment.

Pilot Steve Peterka told authorities that an indicator light came on about 35 minutes into the flight, showing smoke in the rear bathroom.

The court documents say Peterka called Rojas, who was assigned passengers in the back of the flight, and asked him to check the bathroom. Rojas, another flight attendant and a passenger were credited with quickly putting out the flames with fire extinguishers, authorities said.

Investigators later found a lighter in one of the overhead bins.

FBI agent Ralph Boelter said Compass Airlines officials showed “extraordinary cooperation” in the investigation.

Ever hear of calling in sick??

Flight attendant accused of setting fire on airplane [AP] (Thanks to Jeffrey!)

(Illustration: Spoongraphics)


Edit Your Comment

  1. thalia says:

    Up to 20 years in prison? I’ll bet this guy feels like an idiot! I’d be cooperative as hell, too!

  2. B says:

    On the plus side, he’ll never have to work that route again.

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    TSA officials confirm that 19 yr-old flight attendant Eder Rojas was not permitted to board the plane with more than 3oz of shampoo. Officials further stated that a nose hair clipper was confiscated from Rojas in the interest of National Security.

    Not that airline security is a complete sham to create a false sense of security and once again funnel public dollars to the private sector for little benefit.

  4. ChipMcDougal says:

    what does setting a fire in the bathroom accomplish?

    Is the airline supposed to see the err of their ways and tell this kid to go home, take a break?

  5. tasker0 says:

    In flight fire is one of the most realistic and serious onboard an aircraft. A fire in a sealed, pressurized, metal tube traveling 500 miles an hour seven miles up is a pretty terrifying thing. I am more afraid of it than any other aspect of flying. If you examine fatal crashes, you’ll find that a majority of the time, it’s not the impact that kills people, it’s the fire that ensues. It’s why there are announcements on every flight about the serious penalties for tampering with lavatory smoke detectors.


    This guy was UNBELIEVABLY stupid and profoundly endangered himself and everyone else on that flight.

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    As a consumer, is there anything I can do to protect myself against being on a plane that is lit on fire by a flight attendant?

  7. juiceboxonfire says:

    Can you get anymore teenage angsty than setting a small fire in the bathroom? Only maybe if he vlogged it to a soundtrack by The Cure.

  8. NotATool says:

    Well, at least he didn’t tamper with the Smoke Detector….

  9. azntg says:

    @NotATool: Oh yes. Now that would’ve been a LOT worse!

  10. CrazyRedd says:

    Friggin’ Woodbury kids… up to no good!

  11. NotATool says:

    @azntg: Yes, Federal Law prohibits tampering with the smoke detectors. I wonder what Federal Law says about setting fire to paper towels using a lighter you smuggled aboard?

    I sure hope the Flight Attendants Union will be all over this. Surely this is the airline’s fault somehow.

  12. shadowkahn says:

    I went to this kid’s highschool way back when. If it’s still now like it was then, I can’t say I’m surprised at this.

  13. billbillbillbill says:

    Random non-smoker question: If lighters are not allowed past security, how do people smoke in those glassed in smoking lounges?

  14. cmdrsass says:

    That kind of terroristic act demands a maximum sentence.

  15. @billbillbillbill: matches?

  16. ViperBorg says:

    @B: Yeah, he does get what he wants in the end, doesn’t he?

  17. Eoghann says:

    And he’ll get to spend the next 20 summers at Gitmo, the tropical retreat from the stress of jihad.

  18. Northwest spokesman Rob Laughlin said Rojas has been fired.

    No kidding.

  19. velvetjones says:

    @billbillbillbill: there’s an eternal flame in the smoker’s lounge.

  20. howie_in_az says:

    @billbillbillbill: Various shops will sell you a non-terrorist lighter for $5 after you get past security.

  21. wait… aren’t lighters allowed onto airplanes? so this should be no problem, right?

  22. Orv says:

    Dammit, now they’re probably going to re-institute the ban on lighters. Way to ruin it for everyone, Rojas.

  23. astruc says:

    The Eder Rojases of the world seem to get around in the emo bad behavior world.

  24. LadyAlchemy says:

    I understand being angry but I’m thinking that there was a conscious process to it all. Getting a lighter from a friends house. What, after dinner? Carrying extra paper towels onto a plane. What was he thinking at the point where he actually grabbed the paper towels from, I don’t know, a bathroom at the airport?
    My point is that he didn’t black out in a fit of rage. He was awake and aware at every step and he didn’t think to not set fire in a plane with passengers and himself aboard?That is what’s scary about this guy. Or is this my assumption that the plane had persons other than his self aboard it?
    I wonder if he is now considered a terrorist. Isn’t what he did one of the definitions of terrorism. LOL

  25. wait, he stole a lighter from another flight attendant’s home?

    what’s wrong with just… BUYING one?

  26. @AlteredBeast: Chargeback?

  27. donkeyjote says:

    Rule number one in fire + airplane actions. STFU when the cops come. Rule number two. SULU when the prosecutor or judge want to talk to you.

    Why would you detail the crime you commited to cops? *le sigh*

  28. calpchen says:

    So what was going through this kid’s mind?

    Problem: Undesired work shift / route.

    1. Take a friend’s lighter.
    2. Ask for extra paper towels and tissues before flight.
    3. Light paper towels and tissues during flight.
    4. ???
    5. Profit.

  29. groverexploder says:

    When I burn up in a plane fire, I can only hope that I too will be wearing nothing more than a collar and a necktie.