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A British Airways plane leaving Las Vegas caught fire in the middle of take off

All 159 passengers and 13 crew were evacuated.

Smoke billows out from the plane at McCarren International Airport.
Smoke billows out from the plane at McCarren International Airport.
Image: Eric Hays via AP

AN ENGINE ON a London-bound British Airways jet caught fire 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 aircraft in minutes.

All 159 passengers and 13 crew members aboard Flight 2276 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 evening for minor injuries, most a result of sliding down the inflatable chutes to escape.

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 two of the airport’s four runways inaccessible. One of the runways reopened about 2.5 hours after the fire.

Reggie Bügmüncher, of Philadelphia, said she was charging her phone and waiting at a gate for her flight when she heard people saying, “Oh, my God.” She looked out the window and could see “bursts of flames coming out of the middle of the plane.”

“Everyone ran to the windows and people were standing on their chairs, looking out, holding their breath with their hands over their mouths,” Bügmüncher said.

The plane’s emergency slides were deployed a few moments later and passengers quickly got off the plane. She said it was a “bit more orderly” than she would have expected given the dramatic nature of the fire and smoke.

Firefighters stationed at the airport reached the plane two minutes after getting reports of flames, and within another three minutes, everyone inside the plane had escaped.

Aircraft Fire Las Vegas Casinos along the Las Vegas Strip in the background. Source: AP/Press Association Images

After firefighters extinguished the flames, emergency vehicles could be seen surrounding the aircraft, which was left a sooty grey from the smoke and fire retardant.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the left engine of the twin-engine plane caught fire. The National Transportation Safety Board was collecting information about the incident, said Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the agency in Washington.

Guadian reporter Jacob Steinberg was on board the plane when it was evacuated:

Clark County’s deputy fire chief said the cause of the fire wasn’t clear yet, but the fire didn’t appear to breach the cabin.

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

Aircraft Fire Las Vegas All passengers were evacuated safely although some were taken to hospital. Source: AP/Press Association Images

British Airways spokeswoman Caroline Titmuss didn’t answer questions about Tuesday’s fire in an email exchange but said “safety is always our priority.”

Titmuss said in an email that the airline was “looking after customers” but didn’t elaborate. She said the airline would release more information later.

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Associated Press

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