DCA04WA041
DCA04WA041

Fedex flight 7145, an F-27-500, N715FE, operated by Mountain Air Cargo, Inc., departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, for Porto Alegre, Brazil, at approximately 0450Z on 4-27-04. About 45 minutes into the flight while in cruise at 17,000 feet, the flight crew received information about an onboard fire. The jumpseater, who was also a company F-27 captain, went to the rear of the airplane and reported fire toward the rear of the cargo compartment. The flight crew declared an emergency and requested vectors to the nearest airport. Air traffic control suggested Montevideo, Uruguay, which was 92 miles away, but the flight crew requested a closer airport.

The jumpseater went back to the cargo compartment with a hand-held fire extinguisher to deal with the fire, which was burning between zones "E" and "F". ATC eventually notified the flight of a small airport in Melo, Uruguay. After some delay the lights of the airport were turned on by an individual at the airport, and the flight landed on runway 07. The crew evacuated the airplane through the cockpit emergency exit due to the heat and smoke in the cargo area.

The local fire department responded and hosed the cargo compartment through the forward crew door. The rear door was opened enough to insert a hose, and the fire was eventually put out. Once the flights were extinguished, the cargo was removed.

The investigation is being conducted by officials from the government of Uruguay. The NTSB has assisted the investigation with readouts of the flight recorders and examination of some of the burned debris.

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