Driver jumps from cab moments before fire

Andy Lovelock
Andy Lovelock

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DRIVER Andy Lovelock leapt from his lorry cab moments before it exploded.

The 46-year-old from Locks Heath had just set off from being parked overnight at Southampton Docks when he noticed the dashboard of his Renault Magnum lorry was on fire.

Quick-thinking Andy pulled over at Redbridge roundabout in Southampton, and jumped out of the cab.

He then dashed back inside to see if he could release the cab of his articulated lorry from the trailer and realised the gravity of the situation when he touched the handbrake and burned his hand.

He jumped out of the cab and moments later it exploded behind him and was engulfed in flames.

Andy, a lorry driver for 20 years, said: ‘I went and bought a lottery ticket afterwards, that’s how lucky I felt.

‘A bystander said they saw me driving around the corner with smoke coming up from the window wipers. Had I stayed in bed another quarter of an hour, I would have been dead. It just burst into flames.’

Two fire crews were called to the fire, which happened at 6am on Wednesday. The fire was under control within an hour as 11 firefighters from Totton and Redbridge tackled the flames.

Andy said: ‘The fire brigade were there within minutes but by that time the cab was really on fire.’

The cab was completely gutted and Andy lost his personal possessions.

He said: ‘I had been at a funeral the day before so I had my suit and everything in the lorry too. It was just one of those things, I’m quite an unlucky fella.’

Andy was returning from a drop-off with an empty lorry from Southampton to Cornwall for Swallowtail Okehampton, a small company that has been going for four years and has six vehicles.

Operations director Steve Funnell said: ‘At the end of the day, it just burst into flames, it’s a complete write-off. The insurance company will be looking into it and the fire service are not investigating, so that’s it.’

Andy is cheerful about the situation and the job and quipped that it might have taken his suit, but it couldn’t take his humour.

The driver hasn’t let it put him off driving and was back on the road in a different lorry by 9pm the same day.

He said: ‘I’ve seen some horrendous things on the road over the years. So in comparison this was just a bit of bad luck.’