Bedfordshire fire service chief explains what caused London Luton Airport car park fire

Credit: PA

London Luton Airport car park fire extinguished, put out
The fire has been put out, with an early investigation showing a sprinkler system was not in place in the car park. Credit: PA

Fire chiefs investigating a huge fire at an airport's multi-storey car park believe it started from a diesel car.

Luton Airport was closed for most of Wednesday following the blaze on Tuesday night, with all outbound flights suspended until 3pm and inbound flights diverted.

While the fire was put out by Wednesday morning, hundreds of cars were damaged, as the multi-storey Terminal Car Park 2 appears to have partially collapsed.

Andrew Hopkinson, chief fire officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the fire at Luton Airport was thought to have started with a diesel vehicle.

“We don’t believe it was an electric vehicle,” he said.

“It’s believed to be diesel-powered, at this stage all subject to verification. And then that fire has quickly and rapidly spread.”

He added that a sprinkler system could have helped control the fire, but the car park did not have one.

The fire at Luton Airport's multi-storey car park. Credit: Twitter/@Soriyn23

There is no suggestion that the blaze was started intentionally.

AA technical expert Greg Carter said the most common cause of car fires is an electrical fault with the 12-volt battery system.

He added that diesel is “much less flammable” than petrol, and in a car it takes “intense pressure or sustained flame” to ignite diesel.

Mr Hopkinson added: "I am immensely proud of my team here and this was by no means just a fire service effort but we are proud of all of the blue light services who have come together to tackle this situation."

He also confirmed that four crew members suffered from inhalation injuries with three attending hospital and now safely discharged.

A member of staff was also treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire service said a temporary entrance ramp to the car park was being created so that drivers could safely enter and exit the car park.

Mr Hopkinson said there were “just shy of 1,500” vehicles in the affected car park.

He added: “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?”

The remains of the cars at Luton Airport. Credit: PA

Around 25,000 airline passengers are suffering disruption as a result of the fire, with an analysis of flight data websites finding at least 140 flights due to take off or land at the airport have been cancelled since the fire started.

Passengers booked on flights due to depart before 3pm were advised not to travel to the airport, but the airport confirmed it was re-opening in the afternoon.

The fire was declared a major incident and at 9am the fire service said its crews were “monitoring the smouldering remains”.

Fifteen fire appliances and more than 100 firefighters were deployed.

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