US & Canada

British Airways Las Vegas plane fire: Eyewitnesses describe blaze

Passengers flee plane 09 September 2015 Image copyright Jordan Masters

A British Airways plane bound for London caught fire at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport and forced the evacuation of 172 people on board. At least 14 people were taken to hospital with minor injuries. Here, passengers and eyewitnesses describe what happened.

'Giant flames'

"I felt lucky the minute I landed, you know on the ground, and I feel very lucky right now. Everybody that got off before me as soon as they hit the tarmac they just sprinted because behind us are giant flames."

Letha Dunn

'I was terrified'

"Everything was going fine, the pilot was getting ready for takeoff, gaining speed on the runway and just as he was going to take-off there was a kind of bang, and then it just screeched to a halt and we were all kind of braced forward on our seats and we saw all this smoke.

"Eventually the pilot just told us it was an emergency evacuation, we were all just to get off the flight.

"As we were coming down the chutes it was pretty obvious the incident was on the left side of the plane, the whole engine was on fire on that side and the smoke was just belching everywhere.

"I was terrified at the time. When we were trying to get off the plane, everyone was pushing and shoving and screaming - it felt like 10 minutes, but it was all over in a matter of minutes."

Lynne Harrison, from Glasgow

'Holding their breath'

Eyewitness Reggie Bugmuncher said she was waiting at a gate for her flight when she heard people saying: "Oh, my God."

She said looked out the window and could see "bursts of flames coming out of the middle of the plane", the Associated Press news agency reports.

"Everyone ran to the windows and people were standing on their chairs, looking out, holding their breath with their hands over their mouths,'' Ms Bugmuncher said.

Image copyright Lynn Alexander

'Immensely brave'

"There were passengers saying 'there's a fire, there's a fire' and as soon as the crew heard passengers saying there was a fire there was no hesitation from them whatsoever. The exit doors were open.

"They were literally in full swing; it was like clockwork for them, to be honest.

"There was a lady with a very young baby not too far from us. She was immensely brave, taking her baby and stuff off the flight really quickly. Pretty much everyone was trying to help other people."

Dominic Worthington

Image copyright Jacob Steinberg/The Guardian

'Burning rubber'

"We looked out the window and for the first time saw smoke near the wing. We could smell it. It was like burning rubber - bitter and deeply unpleasant - and it was time to panic," the Guardian's Jacob Steinberg writes, who was aboard the plane.

'Big bang'

"I was sitting on the right-hand side of the plane in the middle by the emergency exit. I was with my friend Jacob Steinberg - the Guardian journalist - and another friend.

"I heard a big bang and the plane screech to a stop. I saw smoke from the window. People started screaming and getting out of their seats.

"Some people were running towards the exits. We could hear the cabin crew trying to calm us down.

"One of them told us to prepare to vacate the plane by gathering by the middle exit - but then we saw smoke coming through into the plane from that exit.

"We were then told to go to the front of the plane and vacate from there instead. I wasn't hurt but there was a lot of adrenaline. I'm fine now but still coming to terms with it."

David Willey, from Manchester

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