A WOMAN said she was “minutes from death” after her Mercedes caught fire moments after she stepped out of the vehicle. 

Fiona Kinsman, who lives in St Leonards, said she has been left feeling stressed ever since her recently bought £30,000 Mercedes A-Class “suddenly” caught fire while on her driveway last week. 

She told the Echo: “I had bought the car last July and it has been running beautifully before the fire.

Bournemouth Echo: Fiona Kinsman's Mercedes A200Fiona Kinsman's Mercedes A200 (Image: Fiona Kinsman)

“When I arrived back home last Wednesday, I got out of the car straight away and into the house - I don’t usually do this; I usually wait around a little bit. 

“Within five minutes, I heard a big bang. A guy was shouting and shouting and shouting outside that there was a fire under my car.

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“The fire happened so quickly and I had to evacuate my house and go to the neighbour’s house as we thought it would spread to ours. 

“My main concern is that if I was still sat in the car two minutes after I had got out, I wouldn’t be here now to say this.” 

Bournemouth Echo: Fire damage on the carFire damage on the car (Image: Fiona Kinsman)

Mrs Kinsman said since the incident, she has been unable to focus on her job properly and can still smell the burning even when she gets in her husband’s company car to drive to work. 

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She said: “This is not an insurance claim as my car is still under warranty but they told me to deal with it through the insurance company, but I will lose my no claims bonus. 

“I believe the fire was caused by either a leak in the fuel line which ignited it or it was an electrical fault.”

Bournemouth Echo: Fire damage in the interiorFire damage in the interior (Image: Fiona Kinsman)

A spokesman for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service said: “On-call firefighters from Ringwood were alerted to a vehicle fire in St Leonards and St Ives, shortly after 9am on Wednesday, March 15.  

“The fire affected the engine compartment before spreading to the vehicle’s undercarriage.  

“The vehicle which was on a driveway on Woolsbridge Road, was extinguished by firefighters in breathing apparatus, using hose reels.  

“The crew returned to station following the stop message at 9.41am.” 

Keith Jackman, general manager at Mercedes-Benz of Poole, said: "We are sorry to hear about the customer’s experience

"The incident needs to be investigated to determine the cause as there could be multiple factors which may have impacted the vehicle.  

"Unfortunately until the vehicle has been inspected we’re unable to comment further."