British Airways Flight Catches Fire On Las Vegas Runway, 14 Passengers Injured

Fourteen people were injured Tuesday when a British Airways plane preparing for takeoff from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport suddenly experienced engine failure that resulted in an intense fire.

The flight, which was heading to London with 159 passengers and 13 crew members on board, billowed black smoke and orange flames from under the plane’s wings as it sat on the taxiway of the airport around 7 p.m. (EST), The Associated Press reports.

Passengers and crew members utilized the plane’s emergency slides to escape the fire, a spokesperson for Las Vegas airport says. In all, 14 people were taken to a local hospital after suffering minor injuries from sliding down the chutes after the fire broke out.

Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Jon Klassen tells the AP that airport fire personnel reached the plane approximately two minutes after the flames were reported at 4:14 p.m., and all passengers were off within three minutes. The fire was extinguished by 4:18 p.m.

While the investigation is ongoing, Klassen says it appears the fire never breached the inside of the plane’s cabin.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Ian Gregor says the agency is investigating the fire, but no official cause has been determined yet. However, he did tell the AP that the fire began in the plane’s left engine.

A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board say it was also collecting information on the incident.

British Airways reported on Tuesday that the aircraft “experienced a technical issue” as it was preparing for take off to London’s Gatwick Airport.

“Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency services at the airport.” a spokesperson says. “A small number of customers and our crew have been taken to hospital. All customers have been provided with hotel accommodation, and our colleagues are helping them with anything further they require.”

Several passengers recalled the scary situation to The Washington Post on Tuesday, saying that while the incident was terrifying, the actual evacuation went smoothly.

One passenger said the evacuation could even serve “as a training video. Everybody did their job.”

Jacob Steinberg, a writer for the Guardian who was traveling on the flight, documented the situation on Twitter.

“Was asleep as the plane took off. Came to a crashing halt,” he writes. “Smell of smoke. Initially told to stay seated, then shout of evacuate.”

“Could smell and see smoke but was on other side of plane,” he continued after evacuating the plane. “One person said fire melted a couple of windows.”

Steinberg reported that when the pilot joined the passengers in a gate area he was applauded for the quick action of getting passengers off the plane.

Once passengers were relocated to hotels, Steinberg reported on Twitter that the airline sent a letter of apology and attempted to outline the next steps, including being subject to interviews from authorities.

“I am sorry that you were involved in the incident at Las Vegas Airport today. We do not underestimate how distressing the experience has been for you and we have a dedicated team of staff here to help you.” the airline wrote. “I would like to reassure you that we will do everything possible to provide you with the assistance and support you need. After an incident like this, the authorities take over. They need to collect as much inflation as they can to help support any future investigation.” the airline wrote.”

London-bound plane catches fire on Las Vegas runway [The Associated Press]
Quick action averts disaster as flames and smoke engulf London bound jetliner [The Washington Post]

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