Fire on Southwest airliner forces 139 passengers to evacuate

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A fire on a Southwest Airlines plane forced passengers to evacuate before takeoff at a Southern California airport. 

Officials from John Wayne Airport say the crew of the Boeing 737 decided that the 139 passengers should evacuate Monday night, using the aircraft's emergency slides. They were bound for San Jose. 

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer says the blaze was in the airliner's auxiliary power unit and was extinguished with the plane's fire suppression system. 

It forced a partial shutdown of the airport's taxiway, but airport operations are back to normal. 

One Bay Area family was returning home from a Disneyland getaway weekend when things turned pretty surreal. 

J.C. Arkham posted a selfie on KTVU's Facebook page. It shows him in the foreground with his wife in the background. She's dressed in pink and wearing mouse ears. Arkham says the vacation was part of her birthday celebration. The photo shows them standing on the wing of the plane. He wrote the following caption, " I had to pop the emergency door and climb out onto the wing. Then told to go back inside to go down the slide. We heard something blow. This was very real." 

Arkham exchanged comments with KTVU adding that he always sits in the emergency aisle next to the door when he flies. "It was very surreal actually opening the door and getting onto the wing." 

After the harrowing ordeal, which many noted could have been much worse if it happened in the air, Arkham said they were headed back the Bay Area on a flight Monday night.