Friday, 20 October 2017

Car catches fire minutes after return from holiday

A MAN says he is relieved nobody was hurt after his car burst into flames in Henley.

A MAN says he is relieved nobody was hurt after his car burst into flames in Henley.

Geoff Allingham had just arrived back at his home in Elizabeth Close from a family holiday in Cornwall on Friday last week when his black BMW estate car began to smoke from the glove box.

Mr Allingham jumped out and removed his belongings from the car before flames started coming from the bonnet. Neighbours rushed out on to the street as Mr Allingham tried to tackle the fire himself with a fire extinguisher before giving up and calling the fire brigade.

A crew from Henley battled the blaze with hoses after it engulfed the car and spread to a nearby bush.

Mr Allingham, 44, was driving alone when the fire started as his wife Nicky and sons Henry, eight, Thomas, six, and Joe, three, had travelled home in Mrs Allingham’s car.



He says he only noticed a strange smell when he arrived in Henley and the fire started when he pulled into the driveway.

Mr Allingham said: “I had driven the five hours back from Cornwall and when I got to Valley Road I smelt a burning smell, almost like baking cookies.

“As I pulled in the first wisp of smoke started coming from the glovebox so I jumped out and got all the things out of the car. The fire started under the bonnet and I got a small extinguisher but it wasn’t really doing anything.

“As soon as I saw the windscreen was starting to go I knew it was a full-on fire and the best thing to do was call the fire brigade. By the time the fire service arrived it was blazing. Everybody was out on the street, it was a wet and miserable Friday and I got the whole close out.”

The fire melted the inside of the car, which Mr Allingham has owned since 2008, as well as blowing out the windscreen and windows.

Mrs Allingham and the children took refuge inside the house, although she managed to take pictures of the blaze on her mobile phone.

The charred car was left on the driveway until Tuesday when it was picked up by Mr Allingham’s insurance company. 

He says he doesn’t need the car this week as he has travelled to Germany for work but a replacement car should be provided before he returns over the weekend.

Mr Allingham, an accountant, says he stayed calm during the drama and he is just pleased that his family weren’t in the car at the time. He said: “My first thought when I saw the smoke was to get everything out and then to stand well back.

“The fire brigade were here in five minutes and were fantastic, they got everything under control. Some people were worried the car was going to explode but I didn’t think it would.

“The main thing was that I was the only one in the car. At the end of the day it’s just a car and as long as nobody is hurt that’s all that matters.”

Mr Allingham says he still has no idea what caused the fire and there were no warning signs before the blaze started. He made two stops on the way back from Cornwall, where his wife’s parents have a holiday home, and says he saw nothing wrong with the car.

He said: “It was absolutely fine. I only had it serviced in April and they checked everything.

“There was lots of rain and big storms in Cornwall so some water might have got in but there were no warning lights or anything until the smell.

“I was actually starting to think about selling the car before this happened!”

He added: “It’s just one of those things. The insurance covers things like this, now I get the fun part of choosing a new car.”



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