WATCH: Car bursts in flames in St Albans
PUBLISHED: 07:31 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 07:31 12 March 2019
A couple watched in terror as their car suddenly burst into flames outside their St Albans home.
At about 8.30am on Sunday, February 24, Stef Harvey set out to take their dog to agility classes, turning on the demister of her Vauxhall Zafira B to clear the windscreen.
Almost immediately she saw smoke coming from the heating vents and switched the engine off.
But this is did not resolve the problem - with smoke starting to pour from the car and crackling-fire noises coming from the footwell.
Enlisting the help of her husband, Richard, they emptied the car of their possessions and called Herts Fire and Rescue Service on 999.
Richard said: “At this stage, the panic set in. My wife grabbed a kitchen fire extinguisher. I was absolutely terrified. [The fire brigade] just said ‘get away from the car and keep people away from it’ while they got there.”
A blaze soon enveloped the vehicle, which is now written off.
Stef and Richard were unaware that the Zafira B model had been recalled by Vauxhall. Richard said: “From what I understand they would send out a letter to the owner at the time of the recall to be fixed free of charge, though they do not inform subsequent owners if any of these are outstanding.
“The second recall was never applied to our car.”
ITV reported that Vauxhall was investigating 161 Zafira B fires in 2015, but by 2018 the company was recalling 47,000 models. Richard added: “I was quite emotional, quite annoyed. We had only had the car about a year, we had just spent a lot of money on it.”
In the two weeks previous they had forked out about £1,200 on an MOT, service, engine maintenance, and tyres.
He added: “We have to be grateful that no one was hurt and the car didn’t blow up.”
A spokesperson from Vauxhall said it takes safety very seriously: “Through continual testing, Vauxhall has launched a recall of some Vauxhall Zafira models to replace the heater blower motor and regulator. These are the second generation models - Zafira B - built between 2005 and 2014.
“In agreement with the DVSA, we have written to owners using the keeper address data from the DVLA advising them to contact a Vauxhall retailer to arrange to have the work carried out free of charge.
“However, it is important to note that the incident reported here may not be related to the recall, and until Vauxhall has investigated this specific case, it cannot make any comment.”