It was supposed to be a quiet afternoon of shopping in Market Harborough.
But a Harborough IT technician ended up closing off part of the town centre and probably losing his car, when it suddenly burst into flames on Church Square.
The car, a Mercedes CLK convertible, caught fire on Friday afternoon at about 2.40pm, while being parked outside Bates the Butchers.
The owner, who asked not to be named, told the Mail: “I was just going out shopping, with the roof down.
“I parked the car and went to close the roof and it didn’t work. I got out to open the boot and investigate, and saw smoke coming out of the rear of the car.”
The fire service were called, but local shop staff from Bates, Hobbs the Fishmongers, Amy’s Vintage and other businesses tried to help the driver extinguish the fire with a water hose and some fire extinguishers.
The danger was, of course, that the fire would hit the car’s petrol tank.
Leicestershire Police also attended, and closed the town centre roads from Adam and Eve Street up to Church Street, to keep other vehicles and pedestrians away.
The fire service accessed the boot and extinguished the initial fire – only to find with their thermal cameras that it had started up again in the Mercedes’ roof compartment.
“Then the roof compartment had to be forced open with the pneumatic ‘Jaws of Life’, where the roof was pulled out fully while it was still burning” said the owner.
“That fire was also successfully put out. The vehicle was handed back to me at about 4.30pm. I’m pretty sure it’s a write-off though.”
A fire crew from Market Harborough led by Neil Youngman attended the incident.
“We were trying to avoid any major damage, but in the end had to make a forced entry” he said.