A massive fire broke out at a multi-storey car parking building at Terminal 2 of Luton Airport in the UK on 10th October. It was around 20:45 BST when the news got out.
How did the fire start?
One witness said he saw a blast on the car park roof, and then a flame shot across the car park like a “flamethrower”. After that, cars kept exploding every few minutes. Bedfordshire’s chief fire officer, Andy Hopkinson, also confirmed to the reporters that the incident started from a car and then spread to the building.
Russell Taylor, a 41-year-old account director from Kinross, witnessed the fire upon arriving at London Luton from Edinburgh. He informed the PA news agency, “Around 9 pm, I saw a couple of engines attending to a burning car on the top level of the car park. Within a few minutes, a significant portion of the upper floor was on fire, accompanied by car alarms and loud explosions as vehicles caught fire.”
It is being said that the fire caused 80% of the 3rd floor of the building to collapse. There was no clear information if any person was caught up in the parking lot or airport. The building had around 1900 vehicles parked during the incident and hundreds of them are suspected to be damaged. Around 15 fire brigades were sent to the location immediately by the Bedfordshire Fire Service station.
However as pointed out by the chief fire officer, the impact could have been reduced if the sprinklers were installed in the parking. He, Mr. Hopkinson, advised the airport authorities to fit sprinklers in the redevelopment areas of the building.
Flights suspended at Luton Airport:
Luton Airport is one of the busiest airports in the UK after Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted. After the fire incident in the evening, the authorities canceled every flight till 15:00 BST the next day afternoon i.e. 11th October. Around 40,000 passengers have been affected.
Someone who was on a plane ready to take off when the fire started shared, “We were told to get off the flight because of an incident, but nobody explained what happened. After two hours, they said it was a big problem, and we had to leave the airport. It was confusing because it seemed like the staff didn’t know what to do exactly.”
Aid provided by Airport:
Access to the airport is limited, and people are advised against traveling there. Additional staff are available for passenger assistance, and updates are promised. EasyJet apologized for the inconvenience, offering hotel accommodation and meals as needed. Wizz Air, also based in Luton, cautioned passengers about potential cancellations and disruptions.
Problems faced by passengers:
This fire created a lot of trouble for many people, especially those who did not understand English well since they were from other countries. One of the travelers shared, “Some of us got really scared because we had journeyed alone and were left not knowing where to go after they instructed us to leave the airport.”
Statements by different travelers:
Many people are trapped in Luton, with a large number claiming that their cars are parked in the impacted car park. Helen Jocelyne, from Exmouth in Devon, was returning to Luton Airport from Burgas, Bulgaria, when her flight was rerouted to Stansted in Essex, only an hour before her planned landing. She mentioned taking a coach to Luton but having to walk to the car park with her stuff. She expressed her doubt, saying, “I don’t even know if we can retrieve our car at this point.”
Jason Harris, who was supposed to land at Luton Airport from Egypt, had to go to Bristol instead because of the fire. EasyJet provided a taxi to Luton, but he needed another one to get home in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. He called the whole situation a “nightmare” and wondered why there wasn’t a different way out due to the airport fire.
Rescue Mission and Fire Service:
After the immediate arrival of fire engines at the location, the situation was somewhat under control. However, the firefighters decided to stay there and monitor the area for any unexpected events. Police are patrolling in high numbers near the area to redirect the people and prevent any casualty. The firefighters are trying their best to restore the condition of the place so that normal operations of the airport and other transport can be continued as soon as possible.
A ramp is supposed to be installed to remove the unaffected cars from the parking lot.