Women escape dramatic car fire in Portsmouth seconds before flames engulfed their motor

TWO women miraculously escaped injury after leaping from their car seconds before it burst into flames on a busy city centre road today.

Saturday, 18th January 2020, 2:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th January 2020, 1:50 pm

The pair had been stopped at traffic lights at the junction of Alfred Road, Queen Street and Anglesea Road, in Portsea, when the driver ‘smelt fuel’ in the cab.

Within seconds, the car's engine compartment began to smoke, prompting the women to flee – moments before a blaze ignited and engulfed the vehicle, firefighters said.

The dramatic video above was captured by Summer Smith.

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Traffic came to a standstill as fire crews fought the blaze. Photo: Greg Learoyd

Flames rose to more than 5ft, with stunned passers-by watching from the nearby pavements as the inferno took hold.

Firefighters from Southsea were alerted shortly after 12.30pm, with one crew attending. Meanwhile, police stopped traffic heading into the city centre, towards Gunwharf Quays as the blaze raged.

Southsea’s watch manager, Rich Furse, said the fire spread rapidly and that the quick-thinking pair of women in the car were lucky to escape when they did.

‘The owner of the vehicle only bought it yesterday,’ he said. ‘She was pretty shaken up and shocked by the whole thing.

Fire crews used one hose reel to extinguish the flames. Photo: Greg Learoyd

‘After speaking to her, she said that when they pulled up at the light she could smell fuel in the vehicle then she started to see smoke coming out of the bonnet.

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‘They got outside and away from the car and then it just went up in flames.

‘It spread from the bonnet into the cab and began melting the dashboard.’

Two women were in the car moments before it burst into flames in Alfred Road, Portsea. Photo: Greg Learoyd

Crews used two breathing apparatuses and a hose reel jet to extinguish the fire, which only lasted for a few minutes.

Watch manager Furse added: ‘The car was a complete write-off. Vehicle trim has melted to the road.’

The gutted motor was being recovered by Boarhunt. Portsmouth City Council contractors Colas were also called to clear away debris.

The Highways Agency is expected to assess whether any repairs are needed to the stretch of road, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed.

Firefighters battle to put out the blaze in Alfred Road, Portsea. Photo: Greg Learoyd

Fire crews were stood down at 1.06pm.

The aftermath of a car fire at the junction of Alfred Road and Queen Street in Portsea, Portsmouth January 18, 2020 Neil Fatkin