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Cigarette in restroom at Pittsburgh International starts fire, clears concourse

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 10:10 a.m.

Smoke, a few cigarette butts and a rolled-up sleeping mat discovered Thursday in a men's restroom at Pittsburgh International Airport prompted authorities to evacuate a concourse, call out the bomb squad and move three airlines' planes to other gates.

Authorities determined that a smoldering cigarette caught paper towels and other debris on fire in the restroom, sending smoke into Concourse D, but it remains a mystery who stashed the sleeping mat in a satchel behind a restroom panel, airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said.

“It looks like this was a case of someone smoking in the boys room,” Jenny said when Concourse D reopened about 11 a.m.

Smoking is not allowed in the airport.

Jenny said authorities received a report of smoke in the area of Gate D80 about 7:30 a.m. Authorities found smoke coming from behind a plumbing access panel in the restroom, along with the stashed satchel. Concourse D was evacuated about 10 a.m.

The Allegheny County Police bomb squad and county fire marshal quickly determined the satchel presented no danger. They found cigarette butts nearby, Jenny said.

Airlines that use 14 gates off Concourse D moved planes to Concourse A gates for about an hour. They included United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, Jenny said.

The incident did not delay any flights, according to flight tracking website FlightStats.com.

Jenny could not say whether the authority would investigate to determine whether an employee or a person contracted by the authority hid the sleeping mat to nap on the job.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-320-7847or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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