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Plane catches fire on takeoff at Las Vegas airport

Plane catches fire on takeoff at Las Vegas airport
In this photo taken from another plane window, smoke billows from an aircraft that caught fire at McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas. (Eric Hays / Associated Press)

A British Airways flight was evacuated after one of its engines caught fire during takeoff on a runway in Las Vegas on Tuesday afternoon, airport officials said.

The London-bound plane's left engine caught fire at 4:14 p.m., according to a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration and McCarran Airport's Twitter account.

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The crew immediately aborted takeoff, and passengers were evacuated using emergency slides, said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman.

Clark County firefighters and airport officials were able to extinguish the flames and remove all passengers from the plane within minutes, according to the airport.

There were 159 passengers and 13 crew members aboard, and two people suffered minor injuries, according to airport officials. The aircraft was a 275-seat Boeing 777, the airport said.

Gregor could not comment directly on the cause of the fire. He said the flight was headed to London's Gatwick Airport.

"Safety is always our priority. We are looking after customers after a technical issue with the aircraft," British Airways said in a brief statement.

A spokesman for Boeing said the aircraft manufacturer was reviewing the incident. He said he could not comment further.

Scott Hamilton, an aviation consultant with the Washington-based Leeham Co., said the Boeing 777 traditionally has a good safety record, though the model has been linked to a few infamous aircraft incidents.

A Boeing 777 was involved in the fatal Asiana Airlines crash that left three dead and 187 injured at San Francisco International Airport in 2013, though investigators later determined the wreck to be caused by pilot error. Malayisa Airlines Flight 370, which went missing last year, and the Malaysia Airlines flight that was shot down over Ukraine last year were also Boeing 777 models.

Hamilton said the planes did not seem to be involved in crashes except in extraordinary circumstances. "The triple-7 is one of the absolute safest airplanes out there," he said.

Times staff writer Sarah Parvini contributed to this report.

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