By Daniel Wallis (Reuters), Sept 8, 2015 – A British Airways jetliner engine caught fire as the airplane was departing on a Londonbound flight from Las Vegas on Tuesday, forcing the pilot to abort takeoff, but all 172 passengers and crew escaped the smoke and flames that quickly enveloped the plane.
Officials at McCarran International Airport said two people suffered minor injuries, and video and photographs from the scene showed Flight 2276, a Boeing Co 777 bound for Gatwick Airport, engulfed in flames and thick black smoke.
Passengers were evacuated from the twinengine, widebody jet to the runway using emergency slides, officials said.
According to preliminary information, the plane’s left engine burst into flames on takeoff, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Pacific Division. He said the plane was carrying 159 passengers and a crew of 13.
McCarran airport said on its Twitter feed that the blaze was extinguished and all passengers had been removed from the plane by 4:18 p.m. (2318 GMT), five minutes after the Clark County Fire Department and airport emergency crews received their first call of trouble.
A photograph posted by the airport of the immediate aftermath of the fire showed the plane idled on the runway with its fuselage charred. McCarran said its flight operations would continue on its three other runways, though the FAA ordered all inbound air traffic from several other airports held at their points of origin, including San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
It was not immediately clear whether the two people McCarran said were taken to local hospitals were passengers or crew members.
Jacob Steinberg, a sports journalist for Britain’s the Guardian newspaper, wrote on Twitter that he had fallen asleep on the plane during takeoff and felt the jetliner come to “crashing halt.” “Could smell and see smoke but was on other side of plane. One person said fire melted a couple of windows,” Steinberg wrote. “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.”
A spokeswoman for British Airways, which is owned by IAG , said safety is always the airline’s priority and the airline is looking after customers.
(Reporting and writing by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker)