Car bursts into 20ft flames moments after driver flees vehicle in Belsize Park

The scene after the car fire had died down in Belsize Lane

The scene after the car fire had died down in Belsize Lane - Credit: Archant

A cab driver had a lucky escape when his car burst into flames moments after he fled the vehicle.

The minicab driver pulled up in Belsize Lane, Belsize Park, when the vehicle began filling up with smoke on Saturday night (July 27) at about 8.30pm.

It quickly erupted into flames that witnesses said were 20 feet high and caused damage to nearby lampposts and cars.

Retired journalist Charles Reiss, 71, a former Ham&High reporter who lives in Belsize Lane, said: “It was like something out of a film, the flames were going easily 20 feet in the air.

“There was a ‘whoomph’ of an explosion, which I assume was a petrol tank going.

“[The driver] said that he had just dropped off a passenger when black smoke started pouring out of the dashboard. He got out and the car went up. He thought it might have been an electrical fault.”

Witnesses praised the swift work of fire crews from under-threat Belsize fire station – which may close as part of London Fire Brigade cutbacks – in nearby Lancaster Grove.

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“It proves how valuable it is to have a fire station not too far away,” added Mr Reiss.

“It was the most dramatic possible demonstration of why we need a fire station.”

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said: “One fire engine attended from Belsize fire station. We were called at 8.34pm and the incident was over very quickly, with the fire under control by 8.49pm.”