Coach fire leads to thousands of passengers being evacuated Aug 9, 2013 19:37:09 GMT
Post by Focus on Aug 9, 2013 19:37:09 GMT
Thousands of passengers had to be evacuated from Gatwick Airport this afternoon after a coach burst into flames outside.
Evacuation : Passengers had to leave Gatwick Airport's North Terminal this afternoon after a coach caught fire in a pick up point outside
Smoke could be seen billowing from a pick up point outside the West Sussex airport's North terminal after a National Express coach caught fire shortly after noon.
Passengers posted dramatic pictures of the fire on Twitter and panic set in that it may have been the result of a terror attack with security staff quickly calming passengers down.
The cause of the fire is now being investigated but officials believe that it was most likely an accident.
No one was hurt in the blaze, which destroyed most of the inside of the coach and took an hour for dozens of firefighters to extinguish.
Witness Sophie Burnett told ITV News: 'The fire began around noon. They began by shutting the shops closest like Boots and M&S.
'They then evacuated the whole of North Terminal landside and have stopped all public transport coming over to the terminal including the shuttle and the public bus services.
'They’re currently trying to isolate the smoke from the building.'
Although part of the terminal was evacuated, the check in area was unaffected and no flights were delayed as a result.
Drama : Many passengers took to Twitter to post dramatic photos of the fire which filled part of the terminal with smoke
Eyewitness : This picture was posted on Twitter by a passenger inside the terminal building shortly after the fire broke out
Disruption : The coach is pictured on fire after the blaze broke out shortly after noon, top, with the destroyed back of the coach pictured afterwards, below
Investigation : The charred wreckage of the coach is taped off by emergency services this evening who are investigating the cause of the blaze (Pictured below)
Public transport, including a rail shuttle between the north and south terminals, was temporarily suspended.
A Gatwick spokesman later confirmed that the fire had been put out.
He said: 'The fire was on a coach outside the North Terminal building. Some smoke did enter the lower levels of the terminal and we did evacuate people from that area.
'The check-in areas were not affected and the incident did not have an effect on flights.'
Gutted : The National Express coach, pictured after the flames were extinguished, was all but destroyed in the fire
Transport hub : The incident affected the North Terminal of Gatwick Airport, pictured, and public transport links to the site
A spokesman for West Sussex Fire Service said: 'We sent six fire engines because there was quite a lot of smoke and it had started to drift into parts of the Terminal building.
'It’s believed to have been an electrical or mechanical cause and 80 per cent of the coach was destroyed. It’s pretty damaged.'
A spokesman for National Express said the company had launched its own internal probe into the cause of the fire.
He said: 'We are working closely with the emergency services and will continue to assist them.
'We will also carry out our own thorough investigation to establish the cause of this highly unusual incident.'
More than 34 million passengers arrive and depart from Gatwick Airport each year.
1. [The cause of the fire is now being investigated but officials believe that it was most likely
2. ['We will also carry out our own thorough investigation to establish the cause of this highly
unusual incident.'] - Accident??? ... that's some accident!!!! - Fx