Driver tells of escape seconds before car is burnt out

Matt Sewell with his burnt-out car, which he managed to escape from before it exploded in Costessey. Picture: Denise Bradley Matt Sewell with his burnt-out car, which he managed to escape from before it exploded in Costessey. Picture: Denise Bradley

Monday, December 3, 2012
3:28 PM

A driver has told of the moment he escaped from his burning car just seconds before it was engulfed in a fireball.

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Norwich City fan Matt Sewell sprinted away from the vehicle fire and had to watch as his Mercedes C-Class went up in flames – with his Carrow Road season ticket still inside.

The 24-year-old had been forced to bail out of the vehicle just 200 yards from home when smoke started pouring through the air vents and flames began licking at his ankles.

But instead of abandoning the car in a residential area, the clear-thinking IT consultant drove to the far end of the car park of the West End Cue Club in Costessey, away from homes and other vehicles, before fleeing.

Just seconds later, the car was completely destroyed by the fire.

Last night, he spoke of how fortunate he was to have escaped.

“When I think about it, I was so lucky with what happened,” he said.

Mr Sewell had been travelling back from a Sunday-morning football match, cancelled because of the weather, at around 10.30am yesterday and was driving down Longwater Lane after dropping a team-mate home when he first began to smell smoke inside the car.

“Then suddenly there was smoke pouring out of all the air vents,” he said.

“I knew I had to get out and I didn’t want to just leave it outside someone’s house, but by the bottom of the hill there were flames coming out of the footwell.

“I knew there was a car park at the snooker club, so I tried to get it away from everything even though the car was full of smoke and flames.

“Within a couple of seconds the whole thing was on fire.”

Mr Sewell called the fire service and alerted his girlfriend, who had been waiting for him at their home in Cleves Way – within sight of the blazing wreck.

He said his decision to drive the car away from other homes and cars before jumping out had prevented more serious damage – but only just.

“It could have been much, much worse. Everything could have gone up in flames.”

David Thomson, manager of the West End Cue Club, said: “He was very lucky. It was probably the best place he could have stopped it, because if he’d kept on driving it could have taken his life.”

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