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London’s Luton Airport suspends flights due to ‘significant fire’

London’s Luton Airport has suspended all flights until Wednesday afternoon and asked passengers not to travel there after a “significant fire” caused the partial collapse of a parking structure. Flames leapt out of the third floor of a car park at Terminal 2 of the airport, as firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control, according to an AFP photographer at the scene. “Our priority remains supporting the emergency services and the safety of our passengers and staff. Therefore, we have taken the decision to suspend all flights until 3 pm (1400 GMT) on Wednesday 11th October,” the airport said in a statement issued early Wednesday morning. “Passengers are advised not to travel to the airport at this time, as access remains severely restricted,” it added. Five people, including four firefighters and an airport employee, were admitted to hospital, according to the local ambulance service. Another person was treated on site. The fire broke out at 8:47 pm (1947 GMT) in the airport’s newly built car park. “It was horrible, the noise was like popcorn,” said Marilena Ligea Stan, from Romania, who had to wait 12 hours after landing from Bucharest to leave the airport. Robert Saunders was on his way to the airport from Somerset in south west England when he found out. “You don’t know what to do, so we did the normal thing and got a coffee. There was a really bad smell in the air, hoses everywhere. It’s terrible, absolutely terrible,” he told AFP. – No sprinklers – The local fire service said its crew worked to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to other nearby buildings and vehicles. “Our first two fire appliances arrived on scene just a shade under 10 minutes later to work alongside firefighters from Luton Airport Fire Service,” said Andrew Hopkinson, chief fire officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. “On arrival my officers were faced with a severe and rapidly spreading fire involving a large number of vehicles that ultimately spread to multiple floors and involved a partial collapse of the car park,” he added. Up to 1,500 vehicles were believed to have been in the car park at the time. Firefighting operations were still underway to dampen down the area, the service said early Wednesday, adding crew would continue to be on the scene “for a number of hours”. At the peak of the blaze, there were 15 rescue pumps, three aerial appliances and over 100 firefighters on scene at this incident. A full fire investigation will take place, it added. Hopkinson said there were no sprinklers in the car park and that “we are already talking to the airport about ensuring that any future, and the existing, car parks have sprinklers fitted.” About 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of central London, Luton is served by several budget carriers and is one of six major airports in the British capital. It handled around 13 million passengers in 2022, and around 25,000 passengers are expected to be affected by Wednesday’s cancellations.

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