British Airways Plane Catches Fire at Las Vegas Airport; 13 Injured

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 9/9/2015, 6:57 a.m.
A British Airways flight caught fire on the runway at the Las Vegas airport Tuesday, sending 13 people to local ...
A fire broke out Tuesday on an outbound British Airways flight at Las Vegas' airport, leading two people to be transported for medical care for what the airport called "minor injuries."

By Dan Simon, Greg Botelho and Ed Payne

CNN

LAS VEGAS (CNN) -- A British Airways flight caught fire on the runway at the Las Vegas airport Tuesday, sending 13 people to local hospitals for treatment.

A majority of the injuries came as passengers slid down the inflatable chutes to evacuate the Boeing 777, Clark County Fire Department Deputy Chief Jon Klassen said.

The incident occurred shortly after 4 p.m. (7 p.m. ET) and involved British Airways Flight 2276, which was bound for London's Gatwick Airport, according to the McCarran International Airport's Twitter feed.

'Not safe, not safe'

Passenger Jay Jennings, who was one of the injured, said it was "pretty scary stuff."

The plane was getting ready to take off, he said, when he heard a big thud. He lifted the window shade and saw the trouble.

"Just saw flames on the engine," he said.

The plane stopped and sat for what felt like a minute, he said. Then the captain came on the intercom and told the passengers there was an emergency and they needed to evacuate.

When one of the emergency doors opened, smoke poured in. "Not safe, not safe," someone said, Jennings recalled.

Flight attendants directed passengers to safety, he said.

Jacob Steinberg was also on board.

"A few have cuts and bruises from the slide down. They've been bandaged up," he said on Twitter. "One young woman was taken away by paramedics, but looked OK."

The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft's left engine caught fire, prompting the crew to abort the takeoff.

The flight had 159 passengers and 13 crew members aboard.

Photos at one point showed large plumes of black smoke engulfing the aircraft. That's what Bradley Hampton saw from the plane he was on, about 200 to 300 yards away.

Hampton told CNN that he didn't know whether any passengers were on the British Airways jet -- until "all of a sudden, we saw the doors fly open and the slides inflate."

"At that time, we saw droves of people jumping out of a slide and running across the runway away from the plane," he said.

One of the passengers evacuating was Jacob Steinberg, a sports writer with the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom. He tweeted that a few people had cuts or bruises from the emergency slide.

He also said people shouldn't criticize passengers who took their carry-on luggage with them during the evacuation.

Fire put out in minutes

Paul Berberian, who had just landed on a flight from Denver, expressed admiration at how quickly everyone moved.

"It was like seconds, it was incredibly efficient," Berberian told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "As soon as the slides popped, five seconds later people were just flying down ... and running away."

Berberian estimated that small vehicles were on site within about 90 seconds and larger fire trucks within two minutes. The airport tweeted that the fire was out and all passengers were off the plane by 4:18 p.m. -- just five minutes after the first call came in.