A MOTHER has told of the desperate rush to save her two young daughters before their car burst into flames on the M5.
Laura McEwen, 26, was travelling back to the family home in Idle with her partner Ashley Baker, 28, and girls Niamh, three, and Isla, 18 months, when the horrific incident happened.
Ashley, who was driving, managed to pull over onto the hard shoulder in Somerset when they smelled smoke and the couple then had to release the girls from their car seats and get them out.
She said: “It was horrific. The car started losing power and just when we got the girls out it burst into flames.
“If we were driving for another 30 seconds, that would have been it.”
The family’s car, a Vauxhall Meriva, was burned out in the incident at 4.20pm on Sunday and the family lost everything they had taken to Cornwall for their holiday.
Laura added: “We’re going to have to replace a lot of stuff but the main thing is we’re all right.
“It’s not something I’d like to experience again and wouldn’t want anyone else to go through it.”
She said no-one was hurt by the inferno. Isla is too young to take it all in but Niamh has been affected by the incident.
“Niamh keeps asking why it happened and why it caught on fire,” Laura said.
She said the car had been very reliable and just had its MOT and service.
The Meriva was the family’s main means of transport and Ashley used it to get to work.
Their insurers, Admiral, have provided him with a courtesy car but Laura said the family were disappointed by the company’s reaction after the fire when they did not offer to take them home.
The police rescued the stranded family from the hard shoulder and took them to Gordano Services where they stayed the night before being picked p by Laura’s dad, Rob, but Laura said: “All Admiral said they could do was get us to a place of safety and the police did that.”
The family praised the reaction of the emergency services with three fire appliances attending the scene from Weston-super-Mare.
The incident forced the closure of two lanes of the M5.
There have been numerous reports of cars bursting in flames recently, including Vauxhall Zafiras which were the subject of a recall in 2016 over a heater problem that could cause the vehicles to burst into flames.
But a Vauxhall spokesman said that problems was specific to the Zafira: “It was part of the design to right-hand-drive cars.
“We have no fire history with the Meriva.”
He said that fires started in cars for many reasons and he could not comment on the family’s case but the company would look into it once the family’s insurance company had got in touch.
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