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Father describes lucky escape after car bursts into flames within seconds

PUBLISHED: 08:11 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:35 10 April 2019

A car burst into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Photo: Archant

A car burst into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Photo: Archant

Archant

A father-of-three described the moment he escaped his smoking car in the middle of a busy road before it burst into flames within seconds.

Paul Simmonds described the moment he escaped his smoke-filled car within a minute of it bursting into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Picture: Paul SimmondsPaul Simmonds described the moment he escaped his smoke-filled car within a minute of it bursting into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Picture: Paul Simmonds

Paul Simmonds, 33, had dropped his children off to their grandmother’s house in Heartsease, Norwich, on Monday when he was driving along Grapes Hill towards Lakenham to see his father.

It was around 12.45pm, after 10 minutes of driving, when he noticed smoke coming out of the glove compartment of his car.

“I got out of the car and it was only about 30 seconds later - bang, that’s how quickly it happened,” he said. “Thank God I dropped the children off before the fire happened. If the kids had been in the car, 30 seconds is nothing.

“It wasn’t a happy day for me.”

A car burst into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Photo: ArchantA car burst into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Photo: Archant

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Police had to close the road in both directions while fire crews battled the blaze.
Mr Simmonds, from Plumstead, had bought the second hand Audi A3 around seven weeks ago at Bonds Used Cars in Ber Street, and said he had experienced a number of problems with it.

But Bonds Cars said the car had been taken to an independent station where it passed its MOT the day before Mr Simmonds picked it up, on February 19.

The car dealer said it had found minimal problems when the car was taken in on March 22 and that Mr Simmonds did not contact the garage again until Monday, when the car was on fire.

Paul Simmonds described the moment he escaped his smoke-filled car within a minute of it bursting into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Picture: Paul SimmondsPaul Simmonds described the moment he escaped his smoke-filled car within a minute of it bursting into flames in Grapes Hill, Norwich. Picture: Paul Simmonds

Mr Simmonds said, despite the initial shock of seeing his car completely engulfed in flames, it came as no surprise, adding: “I thought ‘here we go again’, I was just waiting for something else to happen.

“To be fair I wasn’t shocked but surprised - you don’t pay £2,000 for a car and expect it to go up in flames.”

A spokesman from Bonds Used Cars said: “It’s too early to speculate what caused the fire, we will have to wait for the fire brigade report but it could’ve been anything.

“Unfortunately cars can catch on fire, it can even happen to a new car. I’m glad no one was hurt and we have offered a loan car.”

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