From fault to fireball in just three minutes – man’s fears over Vauxhall Zafira blaze in Ipswich

Owner Mark Gildersleeves said the car went from "fault to fireball" in just three minutes

Owner Mark Gildersleeves said the car went from "fault to fireball" in just three minutes - Credit: Archant

A man has told of his “horror” after his car went from “fault to fireball” in just three minutes in Ipswich on Saturday.

The damage done when a Vauxhall Zafira caught fire in Ipswich

The damage done when a Vauxhall Zafira caught fire in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Mark Gildersleeves’ wife Dr Agnes Kummert was driving along Wherstead Road in Ipswich on Saturday afternoon when a warning light came on in their second-hand Vauxhall Zafira.

Just three minutes later Mr Gildersleeves found himself running up the road after spotting flames in the distance – the car had been “engulfed by a fireball”, he said, but luckily Dr Kummert was not inside.

The 44-year-old, a self-employed builder who lives in Leiston with Ipswich Borough Council worker Dr Kummert, 48, said: “I’m a middle-aged man and it made me scared.

“We’d only had the car for two weeks, and didn’t realise the model was known to catch fire.”


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A Vauxhall spokesman said: “There is a product recall of Vauxhall Zafiras. Investigations by our engineers have found evidence of improper repair of the blower resistor motor and its thermal fuse in the Vauxhall Zafira B model, which if it overheats can cause fires.”

Recalling the events from the weekend, Mr Gildersleeves added: “I had just left Whip Street scrapyard and my wife was coming to pick me up. She rang me in a panic when the warning light came on, and I told her to pull over and ring the AA which she did. But just three minutes later she called again having got out of the car. I could see the flames from a distance, and when I got there I was really quite horrified and frightened because it had been engulfed by a fireball. It went from fault to fireball in the space of three minutes.”

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The pair then waited as fire engines from Princes Street battled the blaze, which was put out quickly.

But when they looked inside the car, Mr Gildersleeves said he “felt sick”.

“Everything had melted. The steering wheel was gone, gear stick was gone, I felt sick,” he said.

“That could have been her in that car – what would have happened if she hadn’t got out.”

The Vauxhall spokesman added: “There is a product recall of Vauxhall Zafiras going on right now which affects around 235,000 cars – this particular car was subject to this recall.

“The warning light appearing in this vehicle is most unusual and we are currently in the process of booking a forensic examination of the vehicle.”

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