PASSENGERS and staff at one of Scotland’s busiest airports had to be evacuated into freezing night-time conditions after a bungling engineer tripped an alarm while carrying out repair work.
At least several hundred people spent around an hour outside Edinburgh Airport as the temperature dipped to –8C on Sunday night.
And one aircraft is believed to have had to circle the airport for 40 minutes while the fault was resolved on the ground below, with three others also experiencing delays because of the evacuation.
Crews from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue arrived to find shop workers, airline staff and passengers stranded outside the terminal building, while those on the other side of the security check-ins were taken to the runway side of the building.
Emma Wetton, store manager at Boots, which is after located behind the security check-ins, said that their staff had to stand for an hour in –8C after the alarm went off.She said: “The alarm went off and they evacuated the whole of our compartment.
“They walked everyone down to the evacuation area, there are two compartments, and they took ours outside of the terminal to the runway side.
“It doesn’t happen very often, the store was closed for an hour, from 9.20pm to 10.15pm.
“It was freezing outside, absolutely Baltic, I think it was something like –8C that night.”
And Ewelina Siembor, who manages Café Nero by the front entrance, said that there were about 150 people evacuated to the outside coach bay alone.
She said: “I was doing the stock take and the alarm went off at about 9.15pm or 9.30pm.
“We went to evacuation point two, which is at the coach bay.
“There were maybe 150 people where I was, and there were others at different points around the airport, it’s depends where you are.
“It doesn’t happen that often, I think the last one was in July.”
A spokesperson for BAA, who run Edinburgh Airport, confirmed that one plane had been delayed by 40 minutes, while another three suffered minor delays.
They said: “On Sunday evening a fire alarm was activated at Edinburgh Airport whilst engineering works were being conducted on the building’s fire alarm system.
“The incident was investigated immediately by airport staff during which time there was no threat to passengers.
“Those passengers who had already been processed through security were gathered in a safe place inside the terminal, whilst others were assembled outside the terminal building.
“As result, a small number of flights experienced delays. The incident was resolved within 30 minutes and normal operation resumed.”
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue confirmed that two engines had attended the false alarm, adding that the cause was a fault during maintenance work.