Arsenal plane fire: what happened to women’s squad in Wolfsburg? How did flames start and was anybody hurt?

The Gunners were in Germany for their Women’s Champions League semi-final and encountered some scary looking troubles on the runway.

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Images have circulated online showing the aeroplane that was carrying the Arsenal women’s team back from Germany on Sunday catching fire on the runway in Wolfsburg.

The photos appear to show flames coming out from under the plane’s left wing while it was on the runway in what must surely have been a terrifying moment for all involved. The story has since been widely reported and details of how the fire started and the immediate reaction of the airport staff have been revealed.

Here is everything we know so far about how the fire started, what happened next and whether anyone was hurt in the incident.

How did the fire on the Arsenal team’s plane start?

According to The Guardian, the fire is understood to have started after a bird flew into one of the engines. Bird strikes are not uncommon in aviation with statistics claiming that they are estimated to occur about once in every 2,000 flights, depending on the time of year and flight location. However, it is also said that 80% of all bird strikes go unreported.

What happened after the plane caught fire and was anyone hurt?

Pilots on board are said to have quickly evacuated the passengers, including Arsenal’s first team squad, to safety. There are no reported injuries to have occurred as a result of the fire.

A statement from Arsenal said: “Our aircraft developed a technical issue prior to take-off in Germany on Sunday evening. As a result, we remained in Wolfsburg overnight on Sunday before flying back to England on Monday afternoon. We would like to thank the staff on board the aircraft and on the ground at the airport for their assistance.”

Why were the Arsenal women’s team in Germany?

Arsenal women were in Germany for the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League semi final with Wolfsburg. The Gunners, who have been hampered by injuries this season, got off to a bad start and found themselves 2-0 down inside 24 minutes after goals from Ewa Pajor and Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir

However, Rafaelle Souza managed to pull one back for the visitors just before half time to give them hope going into the break and they were back level on 69 minutes when Stina Blackstenius scored a second for the English side. The second leg of the tie will be played next Monday, 1 May at the Emirates Stadium.

After the match, Rafaelle Souza spoke to the media and said: “I think the goal gave us the energy to fight back in the second half and score again. The mental strength from the team was really important. After making mistakes in the first half, I feel like we deserved to tie this game.”

Have Arsenal ever won the UEFA Women’s Champions League?

Arsenal are still the only English team to have won the UEFA Women’s Champions League, lifting the trophy in 2007 when they beat Umeå of Sweden in the final. Chelsea were runners-up to Barcelona in 2001 but those remain the only final appearances by English teams in the competition’s history.