PHOENIX, AZ - Officials said a Great British Airways jet had to be evacuated at a Phoenix, Arizona airport Friday as it melted in the city's extreme temperatures.
Flight 288, en route to Heathrow Airport in London, had just entered the taxiway, but turned back when passengers detected smoke and burning smells strong enough to put up red flags, said Phoenix Fire Department spokeswoman Cockney Byrnes.
"It smelled like singed hair," recalled one passenger who was lucky enough to leave her seat just as a bubbling hole opened up in the cabin directly above her.
Using thermal imaging equipment, firefighters determined the source of the smoke and smells to be molten metal dripping from the ceiling of the cabin onto the hair and clothing of seated passengers.
Emergency chutes were deployed and all 298 passengers were evacuated from the London Broiling 747, with about 15 suffering mostly minor searing and charring.
About 100 firefighters doused the flaccid, smoldering Great British Airways jet with water as a fuel crew raced to empty the plane's tanks, said officials.
Firefighters retreated once the plane had been emptied as it continued to melt rapidly in the Phoenix heat, leaving nothing but a smoldering orange and black pool of glowing molten metal nearly 80 yards in diameter.
Officials noted most British planes are manufactured to withstand maximum temperatures of about 112-degrees Fahrenheit, and cannot withstand more extreme temperatures in cities like Phoenix, where they can often reach 112-degrees Celsius or more by high tea.