Fire Sprinkler in Luggage Clears LA Airport Terminal

Sprinkler in bag first thought to be pipe bomb, but was just product sample for businessman


LOS ANGELES -- A terminal at Los Angeles International Airport was partially evacuated Thursday when an item found in luggage triggered a security alert. The object turned out to be a sprinkler pipe.

The item, in a checked bag, prompted the closure of a departure area, ticket counter and stores in the upper level of Terminal One shortly after 11:30 a.m., airport authorities said. Dozens of people were sent outside to the sidewalk.

A bomb squad was called and a 300-foot perimeter was set up around a screening machine that detected something resembling a pipe bomb, Nico Melendez, a federal Transportation Security Administration spokesman.

Two arriving Southwest Airlines flights were held at the west end of the airport rather than being allowed to roll up to the terminal. Eventually, the owner of the luggage was located and turned out to be a managing partner in a sprinkler company, airport spokesman Marshall Lowe said.

"He had one of his products in his checked luggage," Lowe said.

Melendez said the item was a telescoping pipe that attaches to a sprinkler head. He did not have specifics.

The all-clear was called after about 90 minutes.

On Wednesday, there was a partial evacuation in Terminal Two after explosive-detection equipment in the baggage screening area alerted authorities to what was believed to be some type of ammunition, officials said.

A bomb squad found two replica mortar shells that apparently were bought at a novelty shop and didn't have any explosives in them, police said.

Passengers were allowed to return about two hours later.


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