BA plane fire: Passengers forced to evacuate after Boeing 777 suffers 'catastrophic engine failure'

British Airways Flight 2276 became engulfed in black smoke and orange flames at McCarran International Airport in Nevada

Alexandra Sims
Wednesday 09 September 2015 09:24 BST

A British Airways plane burst into flames as it was preparing to take off from Las Vegas after suffering a "catastrophic engine failure".

Flight 2276 to London was consumed by black smoke and fire at McCarran International Airport in Nevada, forcing the emergency evacuation of 159 passengers and 13 crew members.

Jacob Steinberg, a Guardian journalist and passenger on the plane, said on Twitter that there was a "mad dash to the front" when the plane stopped.

He added that the plane's pilot, who was "applauded" by passengers after the incident, told the cabin that he believed the fire was due to "catastrophic engine failure".

Passengers and crew members were forced to flee from the aircraft on emergency slides before 50 fire-fighters brought the fire under control.

Firefighters stationed at the airport reached the plane two minutes after receiving reports of flames.

Within another three minutes everyone inside the plane had escaped.

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.”

Fire officials said 14 people were taken to Sunrise Hospital for minor injuries, mostly from sliding down the inflatable slides.

Flights were delayed to Las Vegas by The Federal Aviation Administration for more than two hours following the incident.

The damaged Boeing 777 made two of the airport’s four runways inaccessible, however one of the runways was able to be reopened two and a half hours after the fire.

Passengers who witnessed the fire while waiting at the airport gate said there were “bursts of flames coming out of the middle of the plane.”

Others said the passenger’s exit from the plane via the emergency slides was more “orderly” than expected given the dramatic nature of the incident.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor confirmed the left engine of the twin-engine plane had caught fire.

Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Jon Klassen said the cause of the fire was not yet clear, but the fire did not appear to have breached the cabin.

Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the agency in Washington said that The National Transportation Safety Board is collecting information about the incident.

British Airways spokesman Caroline Titmuss has declined to answer questions about the fire over email but has said that “Safety is always our priority” and that more information would be released later.

The Boeing 777-200 was bound for Gatwick Airport, near London.

The Las Vegas airport is the ninth busiest in the US and received nearly 43 million passengers last year.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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