LAS VEGAS — An engine on a British Airways jet caught fire while the plane was preparing to take off from Las Vegas, forcing passengers to escape on emergency slides.
The plane was about to leave for London yesterday and all 172 passengers and crew escaped the smoke and flames that quickly enveloped the aircraft.
Several passengers and crew suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospital as a precaution, a spokeswoman for the airline said.
Video and photographs from the scene showed Flight 2276, a Boeing Co 777 bound for Gatwick, engulfed in flames and thick black smoke at McCarran International Airport.
Passengers were evacuated from the twin-engine, wide-body jet to the runway using emergency slides, officials said.
“Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency services at the airport,” the British Airways spokeswoman said.
According to preliminary information, the plane’s left engine burst into flames on take off, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the US Federal Aviation Administration’s Pacific Division.
He said the plane was carrying 159 passengers and a crew of 13.
British Airways said the plane suffered a technical difficulty.
The fire temporarily delayed flights across the western US.
Jacob Steinberg, a sports journalist for the Guardian newspaper, wrote on Twitter that he had fallen asleep on the plane during takeoff and felt the plane come to a “crashing halt”.
“Could smell and see smoke but was on other side of plane. One person said fire melted a couple of windows,” wrote Mr Steinberg.
“They opened the back door and slide went down and smoke started coming in plane, followed by mad dash to front. A lot of panic.”
A spokeswoman for British Airways – owned by IAG which recently bought Aer Lingus – said safety was always the top priority and the airline was providing passengers with hotel accommodation and other needs.