BA passengers hurt fleeing burning plane on Las Vegas runway

Updated: 
Passengers on Tarmac After Plane Catches Fire

More than a dozen people have been hurt after a London-bound British Airways plane caught fire on a runway at a Las Vegas airport.

The left engine of the Boeing 777-200 burst into flames at McCarran International Airport, forcing 157 passengers and 13 crew to evacuate through emergency slides.

The airport released a statement which said it was first alerted to the emergency at 4.13pm local time (12.13am BST) and within five minutes everyone was off the plane and the blaze had been extinguished.

Fire officials said at least 14 people were taken to hospital with minor injuries, mostly caused by them sliding down the inflatable chutes to escape.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the plane's left engine caught fire.

An airport spokeswoman said: "All passengers were evacuated quickly and safely and taken by bus to the terminal.

"We cannot express enough gratitude to the emergency response crews, as well as the British Airways crew."

The plane was set to depart for the 10-hour flight to Gatwick when the crew noticed the fire and evacuated all on board.

BA issued a statement which said the plane "experienced a technical issue" and the crew "evacuated the aircraft safely".

It went on: "We are continuing to care for the 157 customers who were on board BA2276 from Las Vegas to London Gatwick and will be organising alternative flights for them.

"All customers have been provided with hotel accommodation, and our colleagues are helping them with anything further they require. Customers who were taken to hospital have all been released following care and treatment.

"The National Transportation Safety Board in the US is conducting an investigation into the incident and we will give them our fullest support."

'Catastrophic' engine failure

BA would not confirm the number of Britons on the plane, although the Las Vegas to Gatwick route is popular with UK leisure travellers.

Jacob Steinberg, a Guardian sports reporter who was on the flight, said the captain told passengers there had been a "catastrophic" engine failure.

He tweeted: "Just evacuated on a British Airways flight at Las Vegas airport after an engine caught fire. Don't think anyone hurt.

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

"Could smell and see smoke but was on other side of plane. One person said fire melted a couple of windows.

"They opened the back door and slide went down and smoke started coming in plane, followed by mad dash to front. A lot of panic."

He added: "A few have cuts and bruises from the slide down. They've been bandaged up. One young woman was taken away by paramedics, but looked OK."

An audio recording which appears to be of the conversation between the pilot and air traffic control, shows how the emergency was dealt with.

The male pilot - who had a British accent - spoke calmly as he said: "Mayday, mayday, Speedbird 2276 request fire services."

The woman in the control tower replied: "Heavy fire services on the way."

Forty seconds later the pilot added: "We are evacuating on the runway. We have a fire. I repeat, we are evacuating."

Boeing released a brief statement which said it was "prepared to provide technical assistance to the NTSB following today's incident".

The general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association, Jim McAuslan, praised the "professional way the pilots and crew dealt with this emergency situation".

He added: "A pilot could go through their whole career without dealing with an incident like this but if it happens all the training and time in the simulator pays off."

McCarran is a major airport in the US, handling almost 43 million passengers a year.


British Airways Plane Catches Fire at Las Vegas Airport