Luton Airport car park gutted by fire did not have sprinkler system, says fire chief

Damage at London Luton Airport after major car fire.
Credit: ITV News Anglia.
Firefighters survey the wreckage at London Luton Airport. Credit: PA

A newly-built car park at Luton Airport which was destroyed overnight by fire did not have sprinklers installed, fire chiefs have revealed.

Hundreds of cars were damaged and a portion of the car park collapsed after the blaze broke out shortly before 9pm.

Estimates are that 25,000 passengers have had their travel plans disrupted, after about 140 flights were cancelled, with the airport not expected to reopen until mid-afternoon on Wednesday at the earliest.

Andrew Hopkinson, chief fire officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said there were no sprinklers in the car park, which is described on the airport's own website as "brand new".

Mr Hopkinson told reporters at the scene: “We are already talking to the airport about ensuring that any future, and the existing, car parks have sprinklers fitted because this building is not sprinkler protected.”

He added: “Sprinklers may have made a positive impact on this incident.”

BFRS initially declared a major incident but has now been stood down from that status.

The service estimated that there were "just shy of 1,500" cars in the car park when the fire broke out, though not all have been affected.

Mr Hopkinson said: “There is a substantial number that are not damaged and our focus as well is can we remove those vehicles safely without causing any danger to the responders?”

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