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Ilford family on Westfield trip flee as Vauxhall Zafira goes up in flames

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 January 2016

Aisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha Chand

Aisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha Chand

Archant

A distraught mum has spoken of the horror she felt witnessing her car go up in flames – moments after making a lucky escape with her six children.

Aisha Chand with her husband Abderazak Amirouche and children Ibrahim Amirouche, eight, Khadijah Amirouche, seven and Mohammed Amirouche, five whose Vauxhall Zafiras caught on fire while they were driving to Westfield on the A12 Aisha Chand with her husband Abderazak Amirouche and children Ibrahim Amirouche, eight, Khadijah Amirouche, seven and Mohammed Amirouche, five whose Vauxhall Zafiras caught on fire while they were driving to Westfield on the A12

Aisha Chand, 35, of Ley Street, Ilford, was on her way to the Westfield shopping mall in Stratford when she smelt burning in her car, but thought it was coming from outside the vehicle.

The Vauxhall Zafira owner’s 16-year-old daughter later alerted the family on the A12 at the junction with Eastway, near Hackney, after she saw smoke coming up from the glove box.

“My daughter screamed ‘get out everyone! Get out!’,” explained Aisha.

“It was pretty traumatic – it was horrific. My heart dropped when I didn’t see my youngest at first.

Aisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha ChandAisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha Chand

“I was trying to warn other drivers because they couldn’t see the fire. Eventually, a cab driver blocked off the road with his car.”

Aisha, who received a letter from Vauxhall in November about faulty heater fan motor resistors, said her car was fully engulfed within a minute of the family’s escape.

“There was nothing we could do, we didn’t have anything on us to put it out – the car was just a shell in the end.”

The letter warned about the potential fire risk of using heaters on second-hand Zafira B models and notified owners of a nationwide recall of 240,000 vehicles.

Aisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha ChandAisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha Chand

Aisha, who insisted she was not using the heating system, was due to have her car inspected in the new year.

But a Vauxhall spokesman said: “She must have been using the heater. We can understand why the family is upset and we’re sorry to hear that but it’s not the fault of Vauxhall.

“It’s down to the bad repair of resistors. People have been getting them repaired and resoldered and it’s the worse possible case.”

Advice to car owners

Aisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha ChandAisha Chand's Vauxhall Zafira caught fire as she drove to Westfield in Stratford. Picture: Aisha Chand

Vauxhall says it is only Zafira B models that could be affected, but if your Zafira B has electronic climate control (ECC), it is not affected.

The manufacturer also says if you are not the first owner or you have had repairs to the heater you should set your fan speed to zero.


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