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Ashland man charged with lighting his airplane seat afire

ASHLAND — An Ashland man could spend 40 years in prison for reportedly lighting an airplane seat on fire in mid-flight last month, officials said.

Dustin Sardi Elkins, 29, appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Medford on an indictment charging him with attempted destruction of an aircraft and interference with a flight crew.

According to the indictment, Elkins attempted to light a seat on fire while flying aboard Alaska Airlines flight 633 on Feb. 3. The plane was enroute from Las Vegas to Seattle when the disturbance forced the crew to divert to Portland International Airport.

Elkin was arrested Wednesday at his home on Lincoln Street by Ashland police and an FBI agent.

U.S. States Attorney Karin J. Immergut, who is handling the criminal trial, would not comment on the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Owen Panner agreed to release Elkins on his own recognizance Thursday on the conditions that he limit his travel to Oregon, refrain from contacting aircraft personnel and not use any controlled substances. In addition, he was ordered to stay away from any airport and aircraft.

His trial is set for May 27 in Portland.