A fire team commander said “many electric vehicles could be involved” in the early stages of a major blaze which destroyed a car park at one of Britain’s main airports, disrupting travel.
A large multi-storey car park at London Luton Airport, which would have held more than 1,000 cars, suffered structural failure and partially collapsed during a fire from Tuesday evening to Wednesday, with the blaze spreading quickly between tight vehicles and causing them to explode. Flights continue to be delayed, suspended and rerouted on Wednesday and the public has been asked not to come to the airport if they plan to travel before mid-afternoon.
Firefighters said they did not believe the fire was suspicious and that it appeared to have been started by a burning diesel car, but a team commander who responded to the fire told the BBC that the presence of many electric cars in the building could have been caused. was one of the first factors in the spread of the fire. He was quoted as saying that “many electric vehicles were potentially involved quite early on… The cars were parked very close together, next to each other.” Unfortunately, this is probably the reason for the rapid spread of the fire.
Efforts are still underway to extinguish a serious fire at Luton Airport. We continue to protect surrounding airport infrastructure, vehicles and the Luton DART. For anyone whose travel plans may be affected, please refer to the advice provided by London Luton Airport. pic.twitter.com/tNFo4hvRdX
– Fire & Rescue Beds (@BedsFire) October 11, 2023
An eyewitness who spoke to the channel spoke of vehicles exploding and said of his experience: “At first it didn’t seem that bad… but suddenly there was a explosion, and there was a huge jet of flame that shot through the parking lot like a flamethrower. Then the cars exploded.”
Describing the fire as it happened, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was “escalating rapidly” and was declared a major incident on Tuesday evening, requiring 15 pumps and 100 firefighters distributed across five brigades.
The car park was reportedly not fitted with a fire suppression system and is now believed to have been damaged beyond the point where it could be repaired and will need to be demolished. Five people were injured, including four firefighters.
Many cars were not damaged by the fire but are stuck as the main exit was destroyed, and work is underway to create temporary access to the building to clear it.