Car explodes in ‘fireball’ near Hibs ticket office

Michael Collins with the car that was torched outside his flat
Michael Collins with the car that was torched outside his flat
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A CAR exploded into a “fireball” on a city centre street outside one of the Hibs ticket offices.

Stunned residents witnessed the wheels “pop” and the petrol tank go up after the vehicle caught fire on Albion Place in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A still from video footage of the explosion

A still from video footage of the explosion

One man, who lived opposite where the blaze took place, said the flames were so powerful that he could feel the heat three floors up and said his windows vibrated from the blast.

Michael Collins, 22, said he saw the car “pop” and “leave the ground” after the fire started just after 1.30am.

He said: “I like a smoke so I was leaning out my third floor window when I saw two people on the street. There was a very small fire in the front seat of the car and it seemed like one of the people was trying to put it out with his jumper, or something, but then it burst into flames and they just walked away.

“There was a series of pops and all of the glass exploded out of the windows. I was taking pictures and recording it, but it was so hot that I had to step away from the window. My single glazing was vibrating from all the pops.

“I’m sure it left the ground when the petrol tank exploded. Then the horn went off for about ten minutes. Everybody was watching from their windows but I think they were too scared to leave their homes. Cars were speeding past as the car was spewing burning material everywhere. It was quite a sight.”

He added: “The Hibs ticket office is opposite where it happened and there used to be weeds going up two storeys of the building. They’ve now all been burned off and the side of the roof is blackened.”

One other 39-year-old resident, who asked not to be named, said he had witnessed a couple leave the car minutes before it went up in smoke.

He said: “The police have asked me to give statements and an ID. . Before the fire I saw a woman in the passenger seat and it looked like she was doing something, but I couldn’t see what. Then it took fire really fast. The couple were really calm about it. They took their stuff out the boot and walked away.

“Apparently police have asked for CCTV from Hibs.”

Police are appealing for information about the incident. A spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police are investigating after a car was found alight in Albion Place at around 1.35am on Sunday 19 August.

“No one was injured and inquiries are ongoing.”

vraimes@edinburghnews.com