Man tells of leap from burning car in Somerset West

2015-07-28 18:53
Scenic burning in Somerset West. (Sharon Smallbone)

Scenic burning in Somerset West. (Sharon Smallbone)

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Cape Town - A commercial fishing equipment sales rep had a lucky escape after the company car he was driving caught alight without warning on Tuesday afternoon.

Unable to bring the burning Renault Scenic to a stop on Main Road, 28-year-old Duran Ries had to make a split-second decision.

“I just bailed [from] the car. I thought it was either that or I am going to burn,” he told News24.

As he leapt out of the car, his cellphone dropped on to the road. He lost the key to his private vehicle and a wallet containing his driver’s licence, cash and credit cards in the fire.

Ries had been driving the car instead of his private vehicle on Tuesday because he was delivering a big order. Driving home after the delivery in Cape Town, he came off the N2 highway and smelt burning plastic.

He said he ignored the smell because the odour was not unusual for that part of Somerset West.

The driver of the car behind him was hooting and flashing lights to catch his attention and that is when he noticed the smoke.

“As soon as I put my foot on the brakes, nothing happened. The brake cables had probably already melted.”

Flames coming from the bonnet

He also tried putting up the handbrake but when that didn’t work, he forced the car into first gear to slow it down before making his escape.

Ries said he remembered seeing flames coming from the bonnet. Motorists immediately stopped to offer assistance with portable fire extinguishers but they were unable to quell the flames.

All that was eventually left of the car was a burnt-out shell.

The city’s acting fire and rescue services spokesperson, Liezl Moodie, said they were alerted to the fire at 13:48.

Two fire engines and a rescue vehicle arrived on scene at 13:57 and extinguished the flames.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Ries said: “I am not a mechanic or anything, but the only thing I can think of is a fuel leak and with a slight nick in the fuel line, it sprays... a fine vapour”.

He said the car was insured.

Ries said his family had had a very eventful few months.

His 70-year-old granny Angelina Youngman fought off housebreakers with a telephone book last week. A man carrying a hacksaw tried to mug her a few months before that. Ries said he was mugged during the same period.

Read more on:    cape town  |  accidents

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