British Airways plane catches fire in Las Vegas

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Passengers were told to run as the plane was evacuated

9 September 2015

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A British Airways plane bound for London has caught fire at Las Vegas airport, forcing the evacuation of 172 people on board on emergency slides.

Airport officials said at least 14 people were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

US Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the left engine of the Boeing 777-200 caught fire before take-off.

The plane was seen engulfed in flames and smoke. The fire was later put out.

In a statement, British Airways said the aircraft “experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for take-off”.

In a distress call the plane’s captain asked for the airport’s emergency services: “Speedbird Mayday Mayday. Speedbird 2276 request fire services.”

“Speedbird 2276 heavy, we are evacuating on the runway. We have a fire, repeat, we are evacuating,” he adds.

The pilot later told passengers that the accident was the result of a “catastrophic failure of the engine”, reports the Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg, who was onboard the plane.

“We looked out the window and for the first time saw smoke near the wing. We could smell it. It was like burning rubber – bitter and deeply unpleasant – and it was time to panic,”

At the scene: Lynne Alexander, passenger

It all happened so fast and the crew were amazing.

The plane was jetting across the runway to take off, when there was a bump and the plane starting screeching to a halt.

I was sitting on the right hand side near the wing, but I could see the smoke from the left engine belching out. Debris was falling from the sky and I could smell smoke and fuel so knew it was a fire.

People were getting out of their seats and the crew were trying to calm them down.

Then the pilot said, “emergency evacuation… off plane now”. People were pushing and shoving and screaming. There was panic but then the chute was deployed and down I went. Then we saw the flames and smoke.

We all ran far from the plane as the fire crew arrived and doused the engine.

Close call, but we’re alive.


 

Passengers had to use escape slides to exit the plane

Passengers say the cabin filled with smoke

One witness reportedly said the fire “melted a couple of windows”

Flight 2276 was bound for London’s Gatwick airport.

There were 159 passengers and 13 crew members on board.

A spokesman for Rolls Royce told Reuters news agency the engine was not made by the company, British Airways uses engines made by either Rolls Royce or General Electric, the agency adds.

The airport tweeted: “Received first call at 4:13 PM (23:13 GMT); flames were spotted at 4:14, and by 4:14 response was underway.”

It added: “@LASairport had the fire out and all passengers off BA flight by 4:18 PM – excellent work by our ARFF team.”

Airport officials said passengers were taken to the city’s Sunrise hospital, most of them with injuries sustained while sliding down inflatable chutes during the evacuation.

172 people were evacuated

Firefighters were required to put out the blaze

Firefighters put out the fire after the evacuation of the passengers and crew

Some of those on board said there was smoke in the cabin as one exit was opened and immediately declared unsafe.

Eyewitness Reggie Bugmuncher said she was waiting at a gate for her flight when she heard people saying: “Oh, my God.”

She said looked out the window and could see “bursts of flames coming out of the middle of the plane”, the Associated Press news agency reports.

An investigation into the blaze is now under way after what was clearly a lucky escape, the BBC’s James Cook in Los Angeles reports.

The incident shut one of the airport’s four runways for several hours.

McCarran is a major airport in the US, handling more than 40 million passengers last year.

The plane’s captain reportedly said “catastrophic engine failure” was responsible

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