A MOTORIST had to abandon his car in the city centre yesterday after it caught fire while he was driving.
Shoppers were left stunned after the 4x4 carrying three passengers caught fire as it travelled along York Place.
The vehicle suddenly pulled in to stop yesterday afternoon at the corner of North St Andrew Street with flames erupting from underneath the car.
The driver was understood to have got out of his car to see what the problem was – and wasn’t even aware of the fire until a passer-by alerted him.
All three passengers escaped safely as passing pedestrians and local shopkeepers looked on from a safe distance as the fire engulfed the entire vehicle.
The fire caused major delays in the city centre as the road was closed off by police.
The burning vehicle was abandoned at the side of the road in front of The Stand Comedy Club and Troon Designer Clothing until the fire service arrived.
Shop workers at the nearby clothing store retreated into their back room when they saw the flames, fearing a possible explosion.
Elizabeth Irvine, assistant bar manager at nearby Lord Bodos pub, witnessed the fire from her bar across the street.
She said: “I just looked out the window and saw this car travelling along the road with these flames coming from the bottom of it.
“Someone had to tell the guy that his car was on his fire because it looked as if he was not even aware of it.
“There was no explosion after that, the car just burned out and it didn’t take long before the fire brigade arrived.”
She added that the passengers were able to escape the vehicle quickly and get safely down the street before it erupted into flames.
Another onlooker said that he saw the driver attempt to tackle the flames himself but with little success.
He said: “I saw the car change lanes, pull in at the left and the driver get out. He tried to get the fire under control with a small extinguisher, but it wasn’t working very well and it just seemed to make it worse.”
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service arrived at York Place within five minutes to find the vehicle fully alight.
Firefighters took just ten minutes to get the flames under control. Police closed the road in both directions.
A police spokesman said it was not yet known what caused the fire, which occurred around 2.25pm yesterday afternoon.
The charred 4x4 was taken away by a recovery truck and the road reopened at around 3pm. An ambulance arrived to collect the three passengers but they were believed to be shaken up rather than hurt.