Driver cheats death by seconds as car explodes

A RETIRED firefighter cheated death by just three seconds when his 1980s classic car exploded on a busy street.

Alex Davidson surveys the damage. Picture: Scott Taylor
Alex Davidson surveys the damage. Picture: Scott Taylor

Alex Davidson, 61, from Leith, had been travelling home from buying plants at B&Q when his beloved black Dutton Phaeton backfired and burst into flames.

The grandfather, who has owned the car for around ten years, noticed smoke coming from the bonnet while he was travelling along Broughton Road and pulled over outside a convenience store.

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Within seconds of diving out of the vehicle yesterday afternoon, it disappeared under a mist of thick black smoke and bright orange flames, leaving surrounding businesses and homeowners terrified.

Mr Davidson said: “I was happily making my way home from B&Q with my plants in the passenger seat and it just backfired with a bang.

“I saw the smoke and thought ‘I better pull over’.

“I have no idea what caused it – it’s been a hot day but I don’t think it was the heat.

“Within three seconds of me being out of the car the flames just shot out and they were about three feet high.”

The car on fire. Picture: Sarah Drummond

According to Mr Davidson, the car was made of fibreglass and didn’t have any windows, doors or roof.

Amjad Naeem, an employee at the nearby Broughton

Convenience Store, said he couldn’t see out of his front door for smoke.

He said: “There was smoke and flames everywhere, it was really scary. I could see the man that jumped out of the car shaking. Everyone was just running about in panic, we didn’t know what to do.”

Victoria Mortimer, 36, had been driving along Broughton Road when she noticed Mr Davidson driving with flames billowing from the bottom of his car. She said: “I was just driving past and I saw massive flames coming from the bottom of the man’s car.

“They were going right up the side.

“I was trying to get his attention but I don’t think he noticed me so I pulled in and called 999 immediately.

“It was such a scary experience but I’m glad he’s OK.”

After fire crews attended, people passing by in the street were stopping to take pictures of the burnt-out vehicle, with many sharing the images on social media.

Black smoke could also be seen from high vantage points across the Capital.

Mr Davidson said the car didn’t cost “too much” money but it had great sentimental value.

He said his ten-year-old grandson loved it and it had always been his dream to drive it. He added that he didn’t think he will be able to purchase another vehicle of its type.

Mr Davidson said: “I’ve been a fireman for 30 years in Edinburgh so I have encountered scarier escapades than this. But I was lucky.”

A spokesman for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “We received the first call at 4.22pm yesterday and then received multiple calls relating to the same incident.

“Crews attended and one high pressure hose reel and breathing apparatus was used. The fire was extinguished at 4.32pm.”

Dutton Phaetons, which trade today for around £3000, were built in Sussex until 1989.