Former 'American Idol' star Jimmy Levy's backpack exploded into a 'ball of fire' just as his JetBlue flight was about to take off from JFK

American Idol star Jimmy Levy
Jimmy Levy appeared on the 2019 season of "American Idol."Eliza Morse/ABC via Getty Images
  • Former 'American Idol' star Jimmy Levy's bag caught fire while his JetBlue flight sat at the gate.

  • Flight crew quickly doused the flames with water and the plane was evacuated.

  • Levy said he was told a portable battery inside his bag had caused the fire.

Former "American Idol" star Jimmy Levy said his carry-on backpack exploded into a "ball of fire" as he sat waiting for his JetBlue flight to take off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, forcing an evacuation of the airplane.

JetBlue said the incident, which is still under investigation, was caused by an electronic device inside Levy's bag malfunctioning.

Levy said he suffered a minor burn to his thigh.

A video posted to Instagram by Levy, 25, shows flight attendants dousing the bag and the seating area with bottles of water to extinguish the flames while panicked passengers attempt to leave the plane.

"Right after falling asleep pre-takeoff on my flight back home to South Florida from New York, I was jolted awake by a sudden and terrifying wave of heat, seemingly shooting towards my face," Levy wrote in the Instagram post.

"I immediately opened my eyes and noticed my backpack, which was initially tucked underneath my seat, now in an exploding and floating ball of fire," he continued. "Acting quickly, I pushed it to the ground and began stomping on it frantically to prevent the blaze from spreading. With the help of the flight staff and water, the fire was contained."


In an interview with NBC News, Levy said he was told by investigators his portable charger was to blame for the explosion. He said he was surprised because the charger wasn't switched on at the time.

"It's a portable charger from a fancy mall, so it wasn't some random thing," he said. "So my message is be careful. Any type of battery or charger can just go off at any time."

Levy said his first thought was he was "under attack" for his political views, reported NBC News.  The former "American Idol," who has over a million Instagram followers, is Jewish and has been posting his thoughts on the Israel-Hamas war in recent weeks.

Levy  was seated beside his mother and sister, who started screaming when the explosion occurred and surrounding passengers were "freaking out" he told NBC News.

The incident took place on Monday on JetBlue Flight 1401, which at its gate at JFK awaiting takeoff to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

JetBlue didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment but told NBC News in a statement that its crew "immediately responded and addressed the situation, and there were no requests for medical assistance."

Battery fires have become an issue on flights as passengers tend to carry multiple electronic devices with them when they travel. Lithium-ion and lithium batteries are only permitted in carry-on luggage on flights in the US, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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