Mother and children escape burning car

A mother and her children escaped from their car moments before it burst into flames. Pic: Colin Cowe

A mother and her children escaped from their car moments before it burst into flames. Pic: Colin Cowe

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A MOTHER and her children narrowly escaped injury when their car burst into flames.

The family had been happily making their way through a car park in North Berwick, blissfully unaware of the horror that was about to explode.

A passer-by – spotting smoke pouring from the car – flagged the mum down and they were able to flee the Vauxhall Astra just seconds before this scene of carnage erupted.

The sound of the wheels popping was likened to a rasp of mini explosions by shocked eyewitnesses, who praised the quick-thinking mystery pedestrian who saved the day.

One said that, without him, the incident could have been “horrific” especially as it happened just yards from a mini electrical substation.

The witness to yesterday morning’s drama said: “He helped them out of the car. If it wasn’t for him it could have been a different story. I think it started underneath the car and it was the footwell of the front passenger seat that caught fire first.”

She added: “Within minutes it was fully ablaze. There was lots of banging as all the tyres popped. Everyone would have thought there were bombs going off.

“It was parked up against a wooden fence which was ablaze and there were wheelie bins next to it, and about a metre away there was an electric substation. It could have been horrific.”

A trained first aider, the woman had stopped to call the emergency services and offer help after seeing the smoke.

“The fire brigade arrived within five or eight minutes,” she continued. “They had to use breathing equipment to put it out because the smoke was so thick. It’s a lucky escape for a mother and children.

“It was loud and the banging was quite scary. I just couldn’t believe how fast it caught fire and went up. In just a couple of minutes it was an inferno.”

Black smoke had engulfed the car park by the time firefighters got to the car park near Lodge Grounds at 11.20am.

After the initial blaze it is understood petrol leaked from the tank.

It is understood that the mother took her children away from the scene as soon as they left the car.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue expert said car electrical faults account for a “huge portion” of their workload.

He said: “We spend a vast amount of our time dealing with car fires. The key advice is to stop safely and quickly and call us. Don’t try and tackle it yourself.”