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Coach Fire Prompts Evacuation at Gatwick Airport

August 9, 2013

airplaneOlivia Goldhill, The Daily Telegraph, August 9, 2013

Passengers were evacuated from a terminal at a major UK airport after a coach caught fire.

Smoke could be seen billowing from the vehicle as passengers filed out of the north terminal at Gatwick airport in West Sussex.

Gatwick said that the rail shuttle service between its north and south terminals had been temporarily suspended due to the fire.

The fire lasted for around 15 minutes, from 12.30pm to 12.45pm, but flight departures were not affected.

Witness Sophie Burnett, who works at Sunglass Hut in the airport, told The Daily Telegraph: "It was quite shocking actually because the big window that we can usually see out of, out of our shop, it looked like it had gone into night-time where this big black cloud of smoke had taken over the whole window."

Ms Burnett said there was no panic and fire engines arrived quickly. She said several hundred people were evacuated and security made sure nobody could re-enter the North Terminal landslide.

She said: “There were passengers, kind of with their trolleys and their suitcases everywhere, staff everywhere.”

“It was very well done. I was quite impressed, there was no panicking.”

Ms Burnett said the coach was now completely burnt out, but the fire was put out and the evacuated ended.

The fire started at the back of the coach but the cause of fire has not yet been confirmed.

Gatwick airport spokesperson Simon Whalley said: “The fire on the coach has been put out. It was only the lower levels of the North Terminal that were evacuated so check in upstairs and departures were not affected.

“As to whether any individual missed their flight, we are not aware of those details yet.

“West Sussex Fire Brigade and Gatwick Fire Brigade attended to put out the fire but we don’t have any details yet on the cause of the fire.”

A National Express spokesperson said: “An empty National Express vehicle caught fire at Gatwick Airport earlier this afternoon.

“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.”

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