Car bursts into flames; driver hurt, escapes with burns

Jan 26, 2014, 08:51 IST | Shailesh Bhatia

Malad resident ignores warning signal in her vehicle; passerby breaks into car and rescue her. The woman is now in hospital with 20 per cent burns

Not paying heed to a warning signal flashing on her car’s dashboard almost killed 35-year-old Rashmi Vyas. On Saturday morning, minutes after her car displayed a signal to check the engine, it burst into flames near INS Hamla in Malad. An alert passerby shattered the car’s windshield and pulled Rashmi out. She was later admitted to INS Hamla hospital with over 20 per cent burns on her back and hands.

Some people on the road warned Malad resident Rashmi Vyas that her car (below) was emitting smoke. However, unable to find the problem, she started the ignition and the vehicle burst into flames. Pics/Sailesh Bhatia

Though the car showed no external damage, its seats and roof were deeply burnt. According to Rashmi’s husband, Dharmesh, an LIC administrative officer (Development), his wife was on her way to Central School, also known as INS Hamla Kendriya Vidalya, where their son studies, for a parent-teacher meeting “The car burst into flames at around noon, between the junction of Madh Marve, on the road which leads to INS Hamla. After primary treatment, we have shifted Rashmi to Sanjeevni Hospital in Malad,” informed Dharmesh.

Investigating Officer PSI Shivaji Bhosle of Malwani Police Station said that Rashmi, in her statement, said that she ignored the orange signal in her car which required her to check her engine. “Some people on the road warned Rashmi that her car was emitting smoke. She pulled over and opened the bonnet, but could not identify the problem. The moment she sat inside and started the ignition, the car was engulfed in smoke and fire,” said Bhosle.

Bhosle added that as the windows were shut and doors locked, Rashmi panicked and could not get out, putting herself at the risk of suffocation and burns. Our primary investigation suggests that the fire occurred due to a short circuit. Though it has a CNG fitted in it, it was apparently running on petrol when the accident occurred” he said.

Act of bravery
Passerby Seema Baharali, an ex-naval officer, spotted Rashmi trapped inside the burning car, which was fast filling with thick black smoke.

Unable to unlock the doors, she raised an alarm and broke the windshield with the help of locals. She then pulled Rashmi out and rushed her to INS Hamla Hospital for primary treatment. “This is the least I could have done and the years of training and serving in the armed forces really helped me to take a quick decisions,” said Baharali. She added that Rashmi was in a semi-conscious state and badly burnt. She kept muttering her son’s name and his school details. “We managed to locate him and eventually informed the husband of the mishap.”

Expert speak
Rajinder Jassal, an automobile expert, said that the orange light flashing on the dashboard was a warning that the car was overheating and some electric sensor was dysfunctional. “Ignoring such a signal is not advisable and one must immediately check the fan belt and water/coolant level of the vehicle, which prevents the engine from overheating. If the problem persists, one must take the car to a garage for a check up.”

Jassal added that all electrical fittings and CNG engines fittings ought to be done by an expert and not from roadside mechanics. “Rodents gnaw at circuit wires and can cause havoc, especially if the vehicle remains unused for a
long time,” he said.

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