Fenland couple relive night of drama as police van bursts into flames outside their house

IT was a normal Saturday night for one Fenland couple until a police van burst into flames outside the front of their house.

Julie and Roger Manchett of Station Road, March, were sitting in their front room reading the day’s newspapers, oblivious to the drama taking place outside.

The parked van, with its motor still running, had suffered an electrical fault causing the vehicle to be engulfed by flames.

Mrs Manchett said: “I mentioned to Roger ‘it’s getting a bit warm in here’ and that I could smell something burning.

“I came through to the kitchen to check whether the smell was coming from there. Roger then shouted that I’d left a light on upstairs. It’s then we realised that the van was on fire outside the front of our house.

“We didn’t panic but I just kept thinking where are the fire engines? After about 15 minutes the van was completely on flames and the tyres on (neighbour) Teresa’s car had caught alight.”

Mrs Manchett dialled 999 but was told by the operator that the town’s two fire engines were dealing with the blaze at a bungalow on the A141 in Westry.

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A crew raced to the scene from Wisbech as the couple fled to the back garden to escape the heat from the blaze.

Mr Manchett said: “We didn’t want to stand in front of the window any more as it was so hot and we didn’t know what was going to happen. The car’s tank could have blown up, so we thought it was safer to head to the garden.”

The heat from the blaze cracked their front bay window which has been boarded up and will need replacing. The couple’s gates and guttering were affected and their neighbour’s car was destroyed.

The couple are unsure how much money will have to be spent to repair the damage.

Mrs Manchett said: “The firefighters were wonderful – they did well to get here so quickly and deal with the blaze.

“It was just a freak incident that both fires happened at the same time. They were really understanding and didn’t leave until they were sure we were ok.

“We’re very fortunate to still have a house and that nobody was hurt.”