Home » The Strangest Thing About The Huge Fire At A British Airport Parking Garage Is How People Reacted To It

The Strangest Thing About The Huge Fire At A British Airport Parking Garage Is How People Reacted To It

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I’m not sure how much you keep up with the news of the British Parking Garage community, but there was a huge fire in London’s Luton Airport, the fifth-largest airport in the UK. The fire was quite a massive conflagration; the fire resulted in the “partial structural collapse” of the parking deck, and an estimated 1,500 vehicles were damaged, with hundreds outright destroyed. It was a pretty horrific fire, but thankfully nobody was killed, and it’s been put out. What’s been especially interesting about all of this has been the online reaction to the cause of the fire, which fire officials have reported as being a diesel Land Rover. Specifically, there’s been a strange sort-of conspiracy theory that the car that started the fire was really an electric vehicle, but the media is lying. And then there’s others who claim the media has been pushing that it was an EV when it wasn’t. It’s all kind of ridiculous, but I guess that’s where society is right now. Oy.

Now, the skepticism about a diesel car starting the fire does have some roots in reality. Diesel fuel, unlike gasoline, is really difficult to combust. A lit match thrown in a puddle of diesel will go out. That’s why diesel engines have such massive compression ratios: the only way to get diesel to combust is to put it under enormous pressure. So it’s not too unexpected to find people surprised that the cause of the fire was a diesel vehicle.

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That said, there is actual footage of the car, which, based on a registration plate lookup seems to be a 2014 Range Rover Sport TDV6 SE, which has a 3-liter diesel engine:

The Bedford Fire and Rescue service have confirmed that this is the car suspected to have started the fire. From The Independent:

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“We don’t believe it was an electric vehicle,” Andrew Hopkinson, chief fire officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said.

“It’s believed to be diesel-powered, at this stage all subject to verification. And then that fire has quickly and rapidly spread.”

For whatever reason, there’s a surprising number of people online who seem absolutely unwilling to accept this explanation, seemingly hell-bent on the idea that an EV and only an EV could have started this fire:

There’s a lot of posts like this one, with many speculating that the Range Rover had to be a hybrid with a lithium battery, and many more questioning the motives of the press, fire department, government, and pretty much anyone with a functioning metabolism who isn’t currently blaming an EV:

And, of course, everyone is now an expert on hybrids and fires and electrical engineering:

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I’m not sure I’ve seen anything quite like this for something like a parking deck fire. Sure, diesel is an unlikely fuel to start a fire, but it’s not like that’s all that’s in a car that can start fires and is flammable. Even without an EV or hybrid’s lithium-ion batteries, a combustion car’s 12V electrical system can certainly start a fire, and all sorts of things inside a car – fabrics, plastics, seat foam, and more – can go up in flames if properly motivated.

Yes, EV fires are a real problem and they can be much more challenging to deal with and extinguish, no question, but it’s not like combustion cars can’t catch on fire, because of course they can. It’s not common for a parked diesel to combust, but it’s hardly impossible.

I’m not the only one to notice this strange determination to blame an EV; this guy made a whole video, which has almost 250,000 views already, and suggests that the reaction of all these people somehow spells doom for the EV market:

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I think this is pretty hyperbolic thinking, and the reality is the vast majority of people either have much more rational, hypobolic thoughts or just don’t really care. What I really don’t understand is the strange eagerness that a shocking number of people have to blame this on EVs. Is everything a conspiracy now? I mean, look at some of these reactions to the fire:

 

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Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with us?

It’s all very strange, and, I think, this phenomenon is new in the world of cars. There’s been controversies over various other transitions of the automotive world, from people’s reluctance to wear seat belts or mistrust of airbags or similar things, but I’m not sure I’ve seen so much distrust and hostility to a particular type of car as we’re seeing here, as electric vehicles become more common.

I think we can all agree that car fires, started from whatever kind of car, are bad, and we should do all we can to minimize them. That seems like a pretty safe position. Anything beyond that and I think we’re ending up in some really strange and unsettling territories.

 

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Rob Martin
Rob Martin
8 months ago

I don’t know whether the airport fire was caused by an EV or not but, being from the UK, I can certainly tell you why people hope it was….its because we are growing to hate them! They are exempt from rapidly increasing road charges….from the end of August I have been paying an extra £87.50 (yes $100+) to drive my petrol car in London and in a few years time the government intends to ban the sale of all cars except EV’s….theres 2 reasons for you!

Penguin Pete
Penguin Pete
8 months ago

If one was to take a look at the NTSB’s marine accident reports, all freely available on their website, you would find many engine room fires, all diesel engines.

The stuff if difficult to light, but when pressurized to fuel-injection pressure, any leaks will atomize the fuel and man will it burn.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
8 months ago

My first suspicion was a Land Rover, but only because I remember the last big English car park fire was an old Land Rover and I thought it would be funny if it was the same culprit. As for diesel, I was chatting with one of our techs a couple weeks ago and he said the only diesel he’d ever seen seemingly spontaneously catch fire was a Peugeot diesel several decades ago, so it’s not out of the question that weird things can happen.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago

I mean… it’s a JLR product. I don’t think that bringing the fuel/energy source in to question really matters. Shitty cars are shitty cars.

Just ask Dick Van Dyke about his JLR experience:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/dick-van-dyke-pulled-flaming-car-california-freeway-flna6c10953956

Elhigh
Elhigh
8 months ago

Shitty Shitty Bang Bang?

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago
Reply to  Elhigh

haha ok, that’s pretty damn clever.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago

I will readily admit that my first thought was “I wonder if it was an EV”. And for these various agencies to point out that it was a diesel vehicle was obviously an effort to preclude that kind of discussion as the anti-EV debate is raging.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
8 months ago

Li didn’t start the fire
It was always burning since the wheels’ been turning

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago

But wait, is it a diesel hybrid? If I am to trust the Wikipedia infobox, the TDV6 is not a hybrid but the SDV6 is.

MP81
MP81
8 months ago

I see the stupidity has spread.

Elhigh
Elhigh
8 months ago

The bit about needing to put diesel fuel under tremendous pressure to ignite it is misleading.

In fact diesel fuel has a lower autoignition temperature than gasoline does (210c vs 280) but it also has a much higher flash point – the temperature at which it gives off sufficient vapor to ignite. So at room temperature diesel fuel is adamantly just a liquid, whereas gasoline is giving off sufficient ignitable vapor to be dangerous even well below freezing.

You need the high compression ratio of a diesel engine to get the air within the cylinder well above diesel’s autoignition temperature. The temperature is what’s important there, not the pressure. The pressure is simply the mechanism by which that state is achieved.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
8 months ago
Reply to  Elhigh

I work in the chemical industry and I see people confusing flash point and autoignition temperature every now and again. They tend to think that flash point means autoignition. I use gasoline and diesel as examples for how to describe them.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
8 months ago

Was the garage made with that problematic concrete they’ve been worried about over there?

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
8 months ago

I guess the USA does NOT have a monopoly on loonies.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  FloridaNative

I’m not urging you to go do too much extracurricular reading, but the UK gives the good ol’ USA a run for their money on conspiracy loonies any day of the week. You could just start with the “royals are lizard people” and/or that the House of Windsor are either direct descendants of Christ OR the anti-Christ, you pick. Not to mention the UK embrace of Q-anon lunacy and on and on. If you want a good chuckle and to be amazed at the edges of the human imagination take a look. But also, maybe don’t.

Phuzz
Phuzz
7 months ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

What always gets me is how conspiracy theories get exported from the US to the UK, even when they make no sense in a UK context. Such as ‘sovereign citizens’ who, absent a constitution to obsess over, misinterpret the Magna Carta instead.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  Phuzz

Thanks to the popularity of “Law and Order” as a broadcast export, a surprisingly large percentage of Canadians believe they have 4th and 1st Amendment rights these days. So our cultural hegemony explains that one, unfortunately.

Misterjake
Misterjake
8 months ago

Just a good old bit of fear-mongering from people who make a career of being professionally outraged.

Seems to me like the car in the videos isn’t a parked EV that spontaneously combusted, more likely it caught fire whilst moving around, as quite a few Range Rovers seem to be doing. Not a unique issue to Land Rover either.

Regardless of if it was a hybrid or not, its a cramped concrete structure full of cars, which are made of things that burn well. Whether or not there were some or many EV’s thrown in, I don’t know if the outcome would of changed?

Ford Friday
Ford Friday
8 months ago

The craziest part is that they don’t believe the fire was started by a British car.

Phuzz
Phuzz
7 months ago
Reply to  Ford Friday

Well, there’s not that many McLarens or Morgans on the road, those being about the only two ‘British’ manufacturers left. Every other manufacturer is foreign owned now. (JLR is owned by Tata now)

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
8 months ago

I may have some experience in this scenario as I was once party to a diesel powered Land Rover burning itself to the ground. We think the connection to common rail fuel line after the high pressure pump failed and atomised diesel was liberally hosed around the engine bay. After that it was only a matter of a hot turbocharger and exhaust. We only think this because that was the impression we got as we raised the bonnet after the fire started to try and put it out. At which point, everything properly caught fire…

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
8 months ago

Diesel flash point is 52C (126F) which is below normal under bonnet temperatures.

It’s auto ignition temperature is 210C (410F). An exhaust manifold can be three times hotter than that.

PAS fluid, brake fluid and engine oil will auto ignite at slightly higher temperatures and engine coolant will auto ignite at around 400C, and that’s 50% water!

It turns out that not bursting in to flames from having a cigarette thrown in to it is a terrible way to assess flammability.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
8 months ago

The truly disturbing part of all this is that someone saw a small car fire and the first thing they did was start taking a video of it.

I don’t know.. maybe look for a fire extinguisher first.

Anchor
Anchor
8 months ago

The fire in the video is well beyond the incipient stage and an extinguisher is doing nothing for it

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
8 months ago
Reply to  Anchor

You’re probably right. In fact it looks like there are a few fire extinguishers on the ground in the top video. At least someone tried to put the fire out instead of just pull their camera phone out.

SirRaoulDuke
SirRaoulDuke
8 months ago

I wouldn’t even try an extinguisher on a car fire at that stage. But I tell you what else I wouldn’t do: stand around and film a car fire, that close, in an enclosed space. There’s some toxic shit burning, for sure.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
8 months ago

Ever since I first visited UK I’ve wondered if there’s a general fear of electricity among part of the population. I was staying at a B&B and decided to watch TV. The set didn’t come on. I eventually figured out it was unplugged. I still didn’t work. Then I saw a small switch on the outlet, so I flipped it and the TV worked. I guess the host wanted to be extra extra safe. Did they fear electricity jumping out of the outlet? I noticed the same setup at other places I stayed. They use 220V there, but still…

Misterjake
Misterjake
8 months ago

Pretty much all sockets in the UK have a switch on them.
Just an easy way to make sure things are turned off, rather than a conspiracy?

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
8 months ago
Reply to  Misterjake

This. I just got back from my fourth trip to Ireland. Pretty sure the electrical codes over there require the switched outlets. Another oddity: Bathroom light switches are outside the bathroom.

Phuzz
Phuzz
7 months ago

The UK uses 240V AC, but it’s specified as 240V with a allowable variance of +6% and -10%, which means it can interoperate with European equipment which uses 220V with +10% and -6%. ie everything is built to work at 230V with enough variance to use either 240V or 220V. I can personally attest that it gives you a pretty good zap if you fuck up.

M K
M K
8 months ago

Headline from 1903.
Massive carriage house fire destroys countless carriages.
Witnesses state that the blaze was started by a horse toppling a paraffin lamp, setting thatch and fodder alight. Scores of carriages were destroyed including at least one horseless carriage. Some community members have speculated that the fire may have instead originated from the horseless carriage, rumored to been owned by an unmarried woman. One man who wished to remain anonymous was quick to point out that horses are naturally afeared of fire and thus avoid flame and ember. He insisted instead that the unproven technology and volatile spirits, which fuel the contraption, are the likely culprits to the inferno. Community elders have called for an ordinance which would only allow horseless carriages to be parked outside of structures and only within close reach to bodies of water. This call was echoed by local buggy whip manufacturer Edwin Fristhoch who called the horseless carriage a grave threat to family unity and to God;s natural order.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
8 months ago
Reply to  M K

“[…]rumored to been owned by an unmarried woman.”

Got to admit, it’s a bit surprising to see that in 1903 a woman was allowed to be unmarried and own property. In my own lifetime I saw women turned down for credit cards without her husband’s prior permission. In the ’70’s a single woman with two kids could hardly get her own apartment.

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
8 months ago
Reply to  M K

If that’s not COTD, there’s something wrong with this site.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
8 months ago
Reply to  M K

“[…]rumored to been owned by an unmarried woman.”

I’m more surprised by the idea that in 1903 a woman was allowed to be unmarried and own property than the idea that people were suspicious of cars.

M K
M K
8 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

Sorry, I made that whole thing up. It was intended as sarcasm, although I’m sure something similar has happed in the past during the horse to horseless transition.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
8 months ago
Reply to  M K

Ah, you got me! I was so ready to believe…. This must be how misinformation carries – the gullible believe what they want to hear.

I’ll reinforce the FloridaNative comment that you should be in the running for COTD.

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
8 months ago

Just to point out the obvious, there are plenty of combustible materials in an automobile, no matter its fuel source, which could be started by a short in the electrical system. For example, a short under the dash that lights the entire interior on fire. Why are people using stupid logic and inferring that only the propulsion system can cause a fire?

Have people never heard of an electrical fire? Good grief people are dumb.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
8 months ago

I have no problem believing it was any kind of vehicle as they all can combust. My question is how hot must a fire get to destroy a concrete and steel parking garage and how long must it burn? That would help.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

It took 12 hours to extinguish, 1200 cars caught fire as it spread, steel loses 50% of its strength by 1100 degrees Fahrenheit,and it isn’t unheard of for a single, fully involved vehicle to reach 1500 degrees

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

See this is what is needed investigation and knowledge.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

For structural steel 50% can be even a little lower. Like 900f depending on the carbon content. Also, depends on if we’re talking about tensile strength or compression. Tensile strength is affected more.

And it appears that this garage utilized a lot of exposed structural steel. Unlike most garages around me that are concrete beam and pillar design this one appears to be mostly steel beam and girder which is more susceptible to fire damage since the steel is not insulated by concrete.

TriangleRAD
TriangleRAD
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

So you’re saying fire can melt steel beams?

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  TriangleRAD

Since everyone knows that fuel can’t melt steel I’m certain it was some sort of controlled demolition, most likely to hide the MI6 “Secrets of the Royal Lizard Family” document facility. If you look at the facts it’s the only possible explanation really.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
8 months ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

WOLF 359 WAS AN INSIDE JOB!

Wait, wrong forum. My bad.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
8 months ago

So glad the Venn diagram of jalops and trekkies overlaps so well. Thanks for the laugh.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
8 months ago

So why again does it matter what fuel type is at issue? That shit burned down. Obviously, something went wrong. It’s not like anyone is claiming that one type of vehicle is somehow impossible to cause a fire. At least one of every type of car has burnt to the ground, none of them are infallible.

Except bicycles of course, if you don’t count e-bikes as bicycles, then those things can and will burn your shit down too.

but Damn if Rover can’t find another way to cement its legacy as something that will eventually leave you stranded.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
8 months ago

[Insert Lucas joke here]

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
8 months ago
Reply to  JunkerDave

Ok, ninja’d. Trouble with the comment layout here is us latecomers have the 2nd page of comments served to us first, and the 1st page is the second.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
8 months ago

Coincidently there was a UK article recently that said practically all parking garages would fall to the ground if filled with EVs, since they weigh so much more, and the structures we’re not built to support that much weight.

Anchor
Anchor
8 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

What an incredibly incorrect article lol

If a bunch of EVs would bring a garage down then so would a parking lot full of Camaros, or Cadillacs. Lots of cars weight almost 5k pounds

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
8 months ago
Reply to  Anchor

You’d be amazed at how few Cadillacs were in the UK in the 1970’s when the average parking structure in the UK was built.

We had tiny cars back then. There is a multi story car park near me that is almost too tight to drive a GT86 round. Some of the spaces are too narrow for me to open the door enough to get out.

We also have a problem with old schools and hospitals falling down. We’ve not done a great job of making durable concrete structures, even without loading them up with modern heavy cars. I’ve seen the same story reported blaming heavy modern SUVs without the panic about the type of propulsion.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
8 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

And don’t forget about London Bridge that

” is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady”
◕‿↼

Last edited 8 months ago by Shooting Brake
Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
8 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

Falling down? We sold London Bridge…

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
8 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Oh…you’re no fun! \(´ ε` )/

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

That’s why you sold it. As-is, no warranty.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
8 months ago

Its a Range Rover. The Lucas 12v system is sufficient to be the source of damn near every fire in England back to the second Rover ever built- the first one was really a Jeep so it gets a pass.

AlfaWhiz
AlfaWhiz
8 months ago

I would imagine marking it as diesel or electric will be the least of the problems when dealing with insurance for this.

RataTejas
RataTejas
8 months ago

From TORCHinsky, who attacked a battery with a chainsaw. Where were you on the night in question Sir?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
8 months ago
Reply to  RataTejas

Cop: “I can put you in Queens on the night of the hijacking”
Hockney: “Really? I live in Queens. Did you put that together yourself, Einstein?”

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
8 months ago

This is all related to the “15 minute cities” British conspiracy theory. It’s like the Q people, but for people that went to Hogwarts. Anything British and related to EV’s isn’t even worth publishing anymore. It’s just the crazed rants of some nob from the Midlands who’s afraid he won’t be able to drive his Astra to Tesco anymore. I mean, they had a former actor get arrested for starting and prompting an armed insurgency against traffic cameras. (We’ll miss you Captain Gatzo). They’ve totally lost the plot over there.

Last edited 8 months ago by EmotionalSupportBMW
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