Leigh Park mum 'traumatised' after her car bursts into flames with her daughter, 8, in the passenger seat

A MOTHER-OF-FOUR has told of the harrowing moment her car burst into flames in a McDonald’s drive-through – with her eight-year-old daughter sat in the passenger seat.

Friday, 30th August 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 30th August 2019, 10:38 am

Louise Smith, 37, called the blaze the ‘scariest moment of her life' after it destroyed her Vauxhall Zafira B on Monday night.

As she pulled into the restaurant in Larchwood Avenue, Bedhampton, at about 10.45pm she saw smoke billowing from the front of the car.

But the situation rapidly escalated after she heard a pop from the front of the vehicle.

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Louise Smith's Vauxhall Zafira B on fire in the car park of McDonald's, Larchwood Avenue, Bedhampton. This is a still from a video captured by James Bellhouse.

‘I told the lady at the window we needed to get to the car park so I could have a look,' said Louise, a former carer from Leigh Park.

‘I went to the front of the car and the headlight on my daughter's side had flames coming out of it.

‘She got out of the car, I dragged her to the other side of the drive-through and shouted at other drivers saying they need to get away.’

As onlookers filmed the drama on their phones, Louise said she and her daughter were in floods of tears as she called the fire brigade.

The front of Louise Smith's Vauxhall Zafira B after it burst into flames in the drive-thru at McDonald's, Larchwood Avenue, Bedhampton, on Monday, August 26. Picture: Shannon Underwood

One video, captured minutes later by James Bellhouse, shows firefighters arriving as the front of the car is engulfed by roaring flames.

‘I've been crying ever since it happened and I feel like I’m being silly,' said Louise.

‘That morning I was at a petrol station at the same business park with a car full of people and I thought “what if it happened then?”

‘It was the scariest moment of my life.'

Louise Smith, 37, with her daughter Olivia-Mai, eight, at their family home in Leigh Park. Picture: Malcolm Wells (190829-7100)

Louise and her daughter Olivia-Mai, eight, escaped without injury and the wrecked car, purchased second-hand last year, has been taken away for investigation.

The people carrier is to be one of thousands of Zafira B-models recalled by Vauxhall because of potential fire risks but the cause of the fire is unknown.

Louise, who said she has been ‘traumatised’ by the ordeal, has urged other drivers to closely monitor the safety of their cars.

Vauxhall confirmed it wrote to her about the recall last week, having only recently acquired her address as the car’s new owner.

‘In May this year we mailed registered keepers of Vauxhall Zafira (the second generation, ‘B’ model, built between 2005 and 2014, fitted with either no air-conditioning or manual air-conditioning) inviting them to take their car to a Vauxhall authorised retailer for a recall related to the wiring harness plug / connector that attaches to the Heating and Ventilation system,' a Vauxhall spokesman said.

‘We would like to inspect the car, subject to the owner’s and her insurance company’s approval.’