ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC:
A huge fire swept through a hangar of regional carrier LIAT which is based at Antigua’s international airport, late on Sunday night and into early Monday, destroying one of the airline’s planes and briefly suspending flights at Coolidge, just east of here.
But the airline said it expected all flights to operate normally on Monday from the VC Bird International Airport, which is also the main hub of its 21-destination network.
It said the hangar was unoccupied at the time and no one was hurt in the explosion. “It is expected at this time that all flights will operate normally today (Monday),” LIAT spokesman Desmond Brown said in an update issued at 2.15 am.
“A further update will be given at 10 am.” Residents in the area told the Caribbean Media Corporation they heard several explosions shortly before 10.30 p.m. (0230 GMT Monday) and saw smoke billowing from the facility, located at the airport’s eastern edge.
It took more than three hours for firefighters and tenders from the airport and from stations around the island to contain the dangerous fire, as explosions continued to ring through the gutted hangar.
Observer Radio, which is located at Coolidge Industrial Park just north of the airport, reported firefighters had been hampered by strong winds as they fought the blaze.
Brown said the fire broke out in Hangar Number One, which sits adjacent to the runway, destroying the facility and the aircraft it housed, together with two office buildings. But he said neighbouring offices and the airline’s cargo facilities were not affected.