Authorities say a United Airlines flight has landed safely at Newark after taking off from the airport for Berlin then returning when fire and smoke began coming from the left wing.

Airline spokesman Joe Micucci said the Boeing 757 “experienced a mechanical issue with the engine” after takeoff from Newark Liberty International Airport at 5:50 p.m. Saturday. He said Flight 96 landed safely about 8:10 p.m.

Barnara Woodruff, a special agent with the FBI, told the Star Ledger pieces of a tire were  sucked into the engine shortly after takeoff. The plane flew over north Jersey in order to burn off excess fuel before returning to  Newark.


Witnesses say they say fire under the wing as it took off over the New Jersey Turnpike and could hear popping sounds.

The plane was carrying 173 passengers and crew members. A Port Authority spokesman said no one was injured and they are working to re-book flights for passengers.  The incident caused flight delays out of Newark on Saturday night.

Kathleen Bergen of the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane crew initially reported “an issue” with the plane’s left engine but the aircraft then began operating normally. She said that as a precaution, fuel was burned off west of Newark before the plane landed.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.