Is That a Landing Light? No, That’s a UK Carpark

Altaf Shah /
Altaf Shah /

Passengers attempting to fly into London’s Luton airport late on October 10th or early October 11th found themselves being diverted elsewhere. What many who looked out their windows thought was landing lights flickering in the distance later learned that it was a parking garage (or a carpark across the pond) ablaze.

On the ground was a very different situation. The structure was believed to have over 1,000 cars inside, with many of them electric vehicles. Packed tightly into the rows to maximize space, the flames spread quickly from car to car, with many exploding in a fireball. As flights were adjusted, travelers looking to fly out were told not to expect any flights to leave before at least the middle of the day on the 11th.

First responders on the scene claim they don’t suspect there was anything unusual occurring at the facility but alleged that it was started by a diesel vehicle parked in the garage. A crew commander speaking to the BBC emphasized, “Lots of electric vehicles potentially involved quite early on…The cars were parked very close, next to each other. So, unfortunately, that was probably the reason for the rapid fire spread.”

According to eyewitnesses, the fire at first didn’t appear to be too bad, and they assumed it would be out quickly. “It didn’t look that bad initially… but suddenly there was an explosion, and there was a massive gout of flame that shot across the carpark like a flamethrower. Then cars were exploding.”

With no fire suppression system built into the structure, fire crews were fighting a blaze with no mitigation efforts in place. With over 100 firefighters responding, with over 10 hose trucks on the scene, this blaze would require not only a substantial amount of water but time as well. While many cars were away from the blaze, the main entrance collapsed, and now crews are trying to get out as many vehicles as they can through newly forged exits.