Main route into Norwich closed as van fire causes 'thick smoke'
PUBLISHED: 16:00 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 07:48 13 August 2019
A van fire on a busy Norwich road saw a main route into the city shut earlier this afternoon as the street was choked with "thick, puffing smoke".
The van, a black 2005 Renault DCI 100, began expelling smoke after the driver refilled the engine oil on Ipswich Road in the early afternoon of Monday, August 12.
Firefighters were called to battle the cloud of fumes at 1.46pm after the vehicle came to a stop on St Stephen's Road, outside the laser tag venue Quasar.
Passenger Danny, who didn't want to give his last name, was sat in the van, driven by his boss, a self-employed flooring layer when it began smoking.
"The oil light came on and we thought it must be running out so we filled it up again," he said.
"We got down here and all of a sudden it went boom. It took the whole thing out.
"You couldn't see anything. The worst thing was we'd just filled it up at the traffic lights.
"My boss was leaning through the window trying to switch the ignition off."
He added: "Luckily enough a police officer drove past as it started.
"He blocked the road off and a fire engine turned up."
An eyewitness, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "I saw the van coming and it started puffing smoke out.
"Suddenly the guy pulled over and jumped out and it just went up in smoke. It was proper loud and noisy."
They added: "Emergency services quickly shut the road down as the smoke was thick and could be seen from near the Sainsbury's on Queens Road."
A crew from Carrow fire station fought the flames at the side of the road using hoses and breathing apparatus.
The blaze was extinguished within a couple of minutes.
Crew manager Andy Nash said he couldn't say what had caused the fire in the vehicle, which left a patch of black on the pavement behind the van.
"The smoke was coming from the engine but it wasn't so much of an engine fire," he said.
"If we hadn't have turned up it could have got worse.
"It could have caught fire and then it would have been a proper engine fire."
A Norfolk police spokeswoman said: "We were called to assist with road closure at 1.45pm to reports of a vehicle fire on St Stephen's Road.
"We closed the road while the fire service tackled the fire."