A MOTHER has told of her miracle escape from her car just seconds before it was engulfed by flames.

Michelle Marchant put her two young children to bed, waved goodbye to her husband Jason and drove off to do a late night grocery shop at Asda in Hollingbury, Brighton.

Minutes after she left their Fishersgate home, her Vauxhall Zafira began to fill with thick smoke.

Just as she was about to turn onto the A27 at Hangleton she was forced to pull over as she struggled to see the road ahead.

As she stepped away from the car to phone her husband, flames burst into the front passenger footwell, Moments later the car exploded and was consumed by the blaze.

Once firefighters had extinguished the flames, at around 11.30pm on Friday, February 5, the extent of the damage was clear. The windows had smashed and what remained was a hollow shell.

The 33-year-old school dinner lady said: "First I could smell a funny smell, then the car filled with smoke. It was really hard to see so I had to find somewhere safe to pull over. I got out of the car and suddenly there were flames. It went up really quickly.

"It was so scary, I don't want to even think of what could have happened."

The model had been recalled by the company due to unexplained fires. Noting this, a private seller arranged for a garage to carry out the necessary checks when the Marchant family bought the car for around £3,000.

They received the official certificate to confirm all was in order and had no reason to worry.

The family, who claim they have been left stranded without a courtesy car because their insurance policy does not cover one and Vauxhall is not providing one, are now waiting to hear the outcome of an investigation by their insurer's One Call and Vauxhall Aftercare.

Bus driver Mr Marchant, 42, said: "When she phoned me I was so worried. I could not believe what she was telling me.

"We thought everything was fine. I dread to think what had happened if she stayed in the car a moment longer. My son is ten and my daughter is five, what if they had been in the car?

"We have been left stranded without a car and are still waiting for answers. I've spoken to Vauxhall at least three times now and they did not even ask how Michelle was, and no-one has arranged a courtesy car.

"We know so many parents at school who have the same model and we worry this could happen to others. I think it is a ticking time bomb."

A Vauxhall spokesman said a forensic engineer and the family's insurer's were investigating the cause of the fire but the process would take a few days. He said it would be up to the family's insurance company to provide a courtesy car. 

The company has recalled some 240,000 Zafira B cars for a safety inspection or repairs where needed free of charge.