Man Arrested and Bailed After Luton Airport Car Park Fire
Police investigations continue into the cause, which appears accidental due to vehicle fault
On 10th October 2023, a catastrophic fire broke out at Luton Airport’s Terminal Car Park 2, causing significant damage and raising concerns about safety measures in place. The incident has had wide-ranging effects on travellers and airport authorities, with safety implications that cannot be overlooked.
Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service has said that the vehicle initially involved in the fire was diesel, and not a hybrid or electric car. Posts on Facebook and X claimed that the multi-storey car park fire was started by an electric or hybrid vehicle, but video evidence suggests it was a diesel Range Rover. Six firefighters and one airport employee suffered smoke inhalation, and thankfully there were no other injuries.
At the time, the blaze had a profound impact, as flights were disrupted, and passengers faced severe inconvenience and uncertainty. Luton Airport, known for its efficiency and convenience, became a scene of chaos as travellers struggled to find alternative parking solutions and adjust their travel plans. The disruption resulted in significant financial losses for the airport and airlines, with cancelled flights and delayed departures causing frustration and unease among passengers.
Since then, Luton Airport has said up to 1,500 cars were inside the car park. The airport provided the Motor Insurers’ Bureau with the registration details of 1,405 vehicles and was working with the Association of British Insurers to try to retrieve any personal items. The airport said alongside APCOA they have responded to almost 16,500 customer queries.
In light of the fire, the partially collapsed car park, which was completed in 2019, has been deemed unsafe and will be demolished, leading to additional challenges for travellers. Alternative parking arrangements will be made, and authorities have pledged to expedite necessary procedures to ensure a smooth transition, offering reassurance to those planning to use the airport.
This week a man has been arrested and released on bail in connection with the incident, with investigations pointing towards a vehicle fault as the cause of the fire. The arrest has brought some relief amidst the shock and confusion; however, it also highlights the need for stringent safety checks and maintenance to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Notably, experts believe that if the car park had been fitted with an effective sprinkler system, the fire could have been stopped from spreading, leading only to localised damage.
A government has spokesperson stated that they are ‘undertaking a major review of the fire safety guidance to the building regulations, including research on the fire resistance of car parks’.
In response to the catastrophe, Luton Airport has also announced plans to review and enhance their safety measures. They aim to implement more comprehensive fire prevention protocols and conduct regular inspections of parking facilities to address any potential risks. The incident serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of maintaining high safety standards in busy public spaces like airports.
As Luton Airport recovers from this devastating fire, the focus now lies on rebuilding and restoring confidence among passengers. Sadly, the catastrophe has prompted valuable lessons around the need to improve safety and security measures, which must be replicated and applied to similar public situations.