Last updated: 10:22 AM ET, Wed September 09 2015

Probe Begins Into British Airways Fire

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | September 09, 2015

Probe Begins Into British Airways Fire

Photo via Twitter/Jacob Steinberg

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Co. are on the ground in Las Vegas this morning, trying to determine what caused an engine to burst into flames Tuesday just before takeoff at McCarran Airport.

The fire happened, thankfully, just moments before takeoff while the aircraft was still on the ground.

There were no casualties, although 20 passengers were taken to local hospitals. All have been released, British Airways said this morning, as observers and emergency services units praised the airline for a fast and orderly evacuation of all 157 passengers, who used inflatable slides to escape the blaze.

The flight was headed to London’s Gatwick Airport.

“All passengers were evacuated quickly and safely and taken by bus to the terminal,” a McCarran Airport spokesperson said. “We cannot express enough gratitude to the emergency response crews, as well as the British Airways crew.”

Acrid black smoke billowed out from the plane’s left engine and could be seen for miles in Las Vegas.

By chance, Jacob Steinberg, a reporter for London’s Guardian newspaper was aboard the flight and tweeted out messages after the evacuation, saying: “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.”

The reporter said the pilot of the plane later met the passengers after they were taken by bus to a special area in the terminal, and he told them the fire was “a catastrophic failure of the engine.”

Steinberg also shared video via Twitter of the aftermath:


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