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British Airways plane catches fire at Las Vegas airport

A British Airways jet has caught fire at Las Vegas airport, sending smoke billowing into
the air, after suffering what the pilot described as a catastrophic failure of the left engine.
The plane Boeing 777 heading from the US citys McCarran airport to London Gatwick could
be seen with flames around its fuselage.
Fire officials said 14 people were taken to Sunrise hospital to be treated for minor
injuries, including cuts and bruises, most a result of sliding down the inflatable chutes to escape.
All 157 passengers and 13 crew including three pilots on board were evacuated, and the fire
was swiftly put out by around 50 firefighters. An airport spokeswoman told reporters: 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 National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the incident, she added.
The plane aborted take-off shortly before the fire broke out. The Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) said the Boeings 777 left engine manufactured by General Electric burst into flames.
Dramatic images of flight BA2276 were shared on social media by members of the public at the
airport, which is five miles south of downtown Las Vegas.
Guardian reporter Jacob Steinberg was on the plane and tweeted about the evacuation: Just
evacuated on a British Airways flight at Las Vegas airport after an engine caught fire. Dont 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.

Passengers, including Jeremy Turnbull, front, flee from a British Airways plane alight at Las
Vegas airport on 8 September 2015. Photograph: Jacob Steinberg for the Guardian
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.

Steinberg reported that the pilot came to talk to the evacuated passengers in the airport building,
and was met by applause. The pilot told them the fire had been the result of a catastrophic
failure of the engine.
The first sign of a problem came when one of the BA pilots contacted air traffic control shortly
after the plane had begun its take-off procedures: Speedbird 2276 heavy stopping.
Fifteen seconds later one of the pilots says: Speedbird Mayday Mayday. Speedbird 2276 request
fire services.
Air traffic control responds: Speedbird 2276, heavy fire services on the way.
About 30 seconds later one of the pilots says: Speedbird 2276 heavy, we are evacuating on the
runway. We have a fire, repeat, we are evacuating.
McCarran airport said the first call alerting it to the emergency had come at 4.13pm local time
September 8, 2015 (7.13pm EDT/11.13pm GMT/9.13am AEST), and flames were spotted one
minute later. The fire was extinguished and all passengers evacuated by 4.18pm.
Airport authorities said one runway had been put out of service, but was reopened just after
midnight local time. Flights were operating as normal from the three other runways, but some
would be subject to delays, they said.
British Airways fire: Mayday, mayday, were evacuating.
In the wake of the blaze, the FAA ordered all inbound air traffic from several other airports to be
held at their points of origin, including San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City and
Albuquerque, New Mexico. The ground stop was later lifted, although delays were likely.
Passengers from the stricken BA2276 were being taken to the Orleans hotel, near the Las Vegas
strip. Steinberg said many were shaking the hand of the pilot, who looked pretty shook up.
A spokeswoman for British Airways said safety was the airlines priority and it was looking after
customers affected by the incident. In a later statement, the airline said: The aircraft, a 777-200
experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for take-off from McCarran International airport
in Las Vegas.
Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency
services at the airport. A small number of customers and our crew have been taken to hospital.
In a letter handed to passengers at the hotel, BA apologised for the incident, saying: We do not
underestimate how distressing the experience has been for you and we have a dedicated team
here to help you.
The airline said passengers might need to be questioned by authorities investigating the blaze.
Once the authorities have completed their interviews, well take you to meet your friends and
relatives We will make all the arrangements to get you to where you need to be.
McCarran airport is the ninth busiest in the US. Nearly 43 million passengers passed through it
last year.
The aircraft model was identified as a 275-seat B777-200, a long-range twin jet that operates on
longhaul routes for BA, one of the worlds largest operators of the type.
Boeing said it was aware of the incident at McCarran airport in Las Vegas, adding: Our teams
are currently gathering more information.

British Airways flight BA2276 on the tarmac at Las Vegas airport. Photograph: Jacob Steinberg
for the Guardian
In January 2008, a British Airways 777 flying from Beijing crash-landed short of the runway at
Heathrow airport outside London, injuring 47. A report found the crash was probably caused by
a buildup of ice in the fuel system, which restricted fuel flow to both engines.
In March 2014, a British Airways plane heading to Lyon, France, was forced to turn back to
Heathrow after flames were seen spitting from the engine of the Airbus A319. The previous
year another A319, destined for Oslo, was also forced to return to Heathrow with smoke pouring
from an engine.
A report into the London-Oslo incident found that staff compromised by fatigue had left
unlatched the covers of the Airbus engine, the fan cowls, during maintenance.