Intense Fire Damages Jet Bridge In Brazil’s Sao Luis


On Saturday, a jet bridge at the airport which serves São Luis, Brazil, caught fire. While the fire and ensuing extinguishing efforts forced the airport to suspend traffic for eight minutes, fortunately, no person was injured. An investigation has been launched into the incident.

Sao Luis jet bridge fire
A jet bridge at the airport serving Brazil’s Sao Luis (not pictured) caught fire early this weekend. Photo: Getty Images

At an as yet unknown time on Saturday, September 24, flames began to rise from the boarding bridge at Gate 1 of Marechal Cunha Machado International Airport (SLZ), formerly known as Tirirical Airport.

The airport is operated by state-owned company Infraero and serves the city of São Luis, the capital of the Brazilian state of Maranhão, in the country’s northeast region. It is served by Azul Brazilian Airlines, GOL, and LATAM.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

Dark smoke against the sky

Thankfully, fire rescue services arrived rapidly on the scene and were able to put out the fire quickly. Only property was damaged, but the incident resulted in an eight-minute disruption of all air traffic in and out of the airport.

Footage has emerged on social media, showing flames across the entirety of the bridge with heavy, dark smoke billowing against the sky. It also shows the state of the bridge, most likely unsalvagable, after the intense efforts of firefighters on the scene.



Sao Luis airport bridge fire
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire at the airport. Photo: Ajmcbarreto via Wikimedia Commons

Another short video clip on Youtube shows the state of the bridge and the general aftermath of the efforts to rescue it. An investigation has been launched to uncover the cause of the fire. No statement has yet been made regarding potential sources of the outbreak.

Düsseldorf in 1996

Luckily, this time, no person was injured in the fire. There have been other occasions where fires at airports have had much more dire consequences. It’s not only fires on planes that can prove fatal.

On April 11, 1996, a fire began inside the passenger terminal at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany. One of the worst structural fires to have occurred in any commercial airport building, it killed 17 people, and injured between 62 and 88. About 1,000 firefighters participated in the extinguishing efforts.

airport bridge fire
In 1996, a fire at Dusseldorf airport killed 17 people. Photo: Sahar.Ahmed via Wikimedia Commons

Toxic smoke proved fatal

That fire was caused by welding work on an elevated access road to one of the terminals. This made drops of molten metal fall onto the ceiling of the arrivals hall beneath the access bridge. They caused the polystyrene insulation to catch fire, with about 100sqm of the highly flammable material erupting into flames within seconds.

Eleven metric tons of polystyrene burned, with highly toxic smoke spreading throughout the terminal building as a result. All the fatalities were caused by smoke inhalation. Sprinklers and fire doors were still not mandatory at the time, and the airport fire brigade had only trained in responding to fires on airplanes, not in the buildings of the airport.

Have you ever experienced an airport or airplane-related fire incident? Let us know in the comments.