London-Bound Jet Catches Fire On Las Vegas Runway

Wednesday, September 9th 2015, 7:13 am
By: News On 6

An engine on a London-bound British Airways jet caught fire Tuesday while the plane was preparing to take off from Las Vegas, shooting flames from the side of the jet and forcing passengers to escape on emergency slides.

Billowing black smoke and orange flames could be seen pouring from under the plane's wings, sending passengers fleeing quickly from the aircraft and across the tarmac before about 50 firefighters doused the flames in minutes.

British Airways said late Tuesday that 157 passengers, not 159 according to earlier reports, were on board Flight 2276 in addition to 10 crew members and three pilots.

All were able to get off the plane, McCarran International Airport spokesman Chris Jones said.

Fire officials said 14 people were taken to Sunrise Hospital by early Tuesday evening for minor injuries, most a result of sliding down the inflatable chutes to escape.

Some crew members were among them, British Airways spokesperson Caroline Titmuss told CBS News in an email exchange.

She didn't answer questions about the fire but said "safety is always our priority," adding that the carrier would provide passengers with hotel rooms.

The Federal Aviation Administration delayed flights to Las Vegas from some airports for more than two hours after the fire to slow the flow of planes while the disabled Boeing 777 made the runway inaccessible. It reopened early Wednesday.

Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Jon Klassen said the cause of the fire wasn't clear yet, but the fire didn't appear to breach the cabin.

The Boeing 777-200, popular with airlines for its fuel efficiency for long-haul flights, was bound for Gatwick Airport near London.

Las Vegas' airport is the ninth-busiest in the U.S. and had nearly 43 million passengers last year. The airport has been taking steps to accommodate more international travelers seeking direct flights to Europe and Asia, including adding new gates to accommodate wide-body double-decker jets.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.