Wikipedia Creative Commons License. Source: Luton Airport, late evening  Author: Mike McBey
17 Oct 2023

The massive car park fire at Luton airport likely was likely started by a diesel car - not an EV


Luton Airport's terminal car park was opened just four years ago as part of a multi-million pound modernization programme. Now investigations indicate that no sprinkler was system installed in the car park. 

According to an article by the BBC,  the fire on October 10, 2023,  started on level-three of the airport's car park number two.

Fifteen fire engines and more than 100 firefighters from Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and London were sent to the scene at Luton airport, which is the UK´s 5th largest airport. 

The fire service said the car park was not fitted with sprinklers, according to the October 12 BBC-article "What caused the Luton Airport fire and what happens next?", which analyses the fire through interviews with first responders on the scene. 

Tens of thousands of passengers had their travel plans disrupted by the vehicle fire, which spread throughout the car-park and caused a structural collapse.


1500 vehicles may have been destroyed

According to the North Somerset Times,  it is unlikely any vehicles will be salvageable at Luton Airport after car park fire. 

Andrew Hopkinson, chief fire officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said up to 1,500 vehicles were inside the car park at the time of the fire.

In a statement, the airport said it is “unlikely that any vehicles in the car park will be salvageable” but this was “still in the process of being assessed”.


Unsupported theories about an EV starting the fire

According to an article on The Standard.co.uk, due to the proximity to cars and anecdotal evidence of electric vehicles catching fire, some members of the public were theorizing that the fire could have been started by an electric vehicle.

Although it is not clear what started the fire, indications are pointing more towards it starting in a conventional fuel vehicle: 

"Originating on level three of the airport’s terminal two car park, it’s believed that the fire started with a diesel-powered vehicle “and then that fire has quickly and rapidly spread”, according to Andrew Hopkinson, Bedfordshire’s chief fire officer, while speaking to the BBC.

"A witness who discovered the blaze said that she found the car on fire and left to find an extinguisher. As she returned, the vehicle exploded and she could no longer get near it."


Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons License

Luton Airport is familiar to many British people as it has catered for holiday flights for many years and is the headquarters for the low-cost airline easyJet.

It's seen here from an overflight and shows the only runway which is kept busy. A landing aircraft has just left the runway and another is entering, in preparation for takeoff. A third is waiting it's turn to leave.

Luton Airport, late evening

Author: Mike McBey