London’s Luton Airport resumes flights after car park blaze

LONDON (Reuters) -London’s Luton Airport resumed flights on Wednesday after they were suspended for nearly 18 hours due to a fire involving a diesel car that set off a major blaze, partially destroying a multi-storey car park.

Luton is Britain’s fifth busiest airport after London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester. More than 13 million passengers used it last year, official figures show.

“The runway is now open, and flights are beginning to arrive and depart,” Luton Airport, located north of London, said in a statement.

Flights were suspended just after 2100 GMT on Tuesday.

There were no fatalities or injuries from the fire, which was reported to emergency services late on Tuesday. Huge flames swept through the structure located a short distance from the airport terminal.

“The fire service can confirm the initial vehicle involved in the fire was a diesel car,” the local fire authority said, adding that it would investigate the exact cause.

Earlier, local fire chief Andrew Hopkinson told reporters it appeared to be an accidental fire.

Four firefighters and a member of airport staff were taken to hospital to be treated for mild smoke inhalation but have since been discharged.

Up to 1,200 cars could have been in the car park at the time, the fire department said.

“One half of the structure was fully involved in fire and the building suffered a significant structural collapse,” it said.

The airport handles around 40,000 passengers a day in October on several hundred mostly short-haul European flights, official data shows.

Britain’s easyJet said it was “doing all possible to minimise the impact on our customers, providing those on cancelled flights with options to re-book or receive a refund, as well as providing hotel accommodation and meals where required”.

Ryanair and Wizz Air said affected passengers would be contacted as soon as possible.

(Reporting by Baranjot Kaur in Bengaluru and William James and Paul Sandle in London, Additional reporting by Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Kate Holton, Janet Lawrence and Gareth Jones)