London: London's Luton Airport has suspended all flights until Wednesday afternoon and asked passengers not to travel there after a "significant fire" caused the partial collapse of a parking structure.
Flames leapt out of the third floor of a car park at Terminal 2 of the airport, as firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.
"Our priority remains supporting the emergency services and the safety of our passengers and staff. Therefore, we have taken the decision to suspend all flights until 3 pm (1400 GMT) on Wednesday 11th October," the airport said in a statement issued early Wednesday morning.
"Passengers are advised not to travel to the airport at this time, as access remains severely restricted," it added.
Five people, including four firefighters and an airport employee, were admitted to hospital, according to the local ambulance service.
Another person was treated on site.
The fire broke out at 8:47 pm (1947 GMT) in the airport's newly built car park.
"A few minutes later most of the upper floor was alight, car alarms were going off with loud explosions from cars going up in flames," Russell Taylor, 41, an account director from Scotland told British newswire PA.
"The speed in which the fire took hold was incredible."
The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said its crew worked to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to other nearby buildings and vehicles.
"Fire crews were faced with a rapidly escalating fire and declared a major incident," it said.
"A severe fire rapidly spread through the structure and the severity of the fire has caused significant structural collapse."
Up to 1,200 vehicles were believed to have been in the car park at the time.
"Firefighting operations are still underway as crews dampen down the area," the service said early Wednesday, adding crew would continue to be on the scene "for a number of hours".
At the peak of the blaze, there were 15 rescue pumps, three aerial appliances and over 100 firefighters on scene at this incident.
A full fire investigation will take place, it added.
About 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of central London, Luton is served by several budget carriers and is one of six major airports in the British capital.
It handled around 13 million passengers in 2022, and around 25,000 passengers are expected to be affected by Wednesday's cancellations.