Passengers and crew aboard a British Airways jet bound for London had a close call after an engine caught fire shortly before taking off from Las Vegas late Tuesday afternoon.
"All of a sudden you heard a boom, and it shook the plane," said Karen Bravo, one of 172 people aboard Flight 2276. The 60-year-old passenger from Las Vegas told the Las Vegas Review-Journal she’d "thought it was a tire blowing out, and then you heard another one and then the plane just stopped."
Inside McCarran International Airport, Reggie Bugmuncher was waiting at a gate when she heard people exclaiming, "Oh, my god." Looking out the window, she saw "bursts of flames coming out of the middle of the plane," the Associated Press reported.
The Boeing 777, scheduled for a 4:05 p.m. departure, had taxied down the runway when a fire was reported several minutes later.
As the cabin quickly filled with smoke, everyone safely evacuated the plane on inflatable emergency slides. About 50 firefighters responded to the burning plane and extinguished the fire within minutes.
The 13-member crew "evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished" after experiencing "a technical issue," British Airways said in a statement.
Passenger Bravo praised the professionalism of the crew, airport staff and first responders, saying, "This could be a training video."
At least 13 people were taken to nearby Sunrise Hospital to be treated for minor injuries sustained during the evacuation, fire officials said.
Aviation authorities delayed flights for more than two hours after the fire until the disabled plane, which blocked two of McCarran’s four runways, was removed.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor reported that the plane’s left engine had caught fire. A Clark County deputy fire chief said the source wasn’t yet clear but that the blaze hadn’t reached the cabin, the AP said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
McCarran, the United States’ ninth busiest airport, last year served nearly 43 million passengers. It has been adding gates to meet increased demand for direct flights to Europe and Asia.