Heroic staff at a cafe in Berkhamsted saved the day after they pulled together to help put out a car engine blaze this morning.
Cafe manager Sarah Poynter was getting ready to open up at Here on Lower Kings Road before the eatery opened at 7am when a man in a suit knocked on the door.
Sarah, 27, said: “He told me I shouldn’t be going near the windows because there was a car on fire round the corner, and they were worried it was going to blow up.
“I popped my head out to see what was going on and the whole of the front of the car was in flames.”
Sarah then ran upstairs and told head chef Lewis Peers what was happening. She said: “I shouted ‘Lewis, Lewis, there’s a fire!’”
Quick-thinking Lewis grabbed a fire extinguisher, ran outside and started to tackle the blaze. Two commuters – one of whom was the man who knocked on the cafe door – joined him after finding two more extinguishers.
Lewis, 27, said: “The first thing I asked was if anyone was still inside the car, but they weren’t. I actually got in the car at one point, which probably wasn’t the best idea, but I was trying to find the button to pop the bonnet.
“I couldn’t in the end, but the fire was so intense that the bonnet just melted away. The fire was right in the middle of the engine.”
The three have-a-go heroes continued until the fire was extinguished, but the wreckage of the Smart 44 was left smouldering on the corner of the entrance to Waitrose car park.
Meanwhile, Sarah led the car’s shaken motorist and passenger – a mother and daughter – to the safety of Here and offered them a strong cup of tea.
She said: “I told them to come in and gather their thoughts and calm their nerves. One of them was hysterical, so I calmed her down. From what I can gather, they were from Kent and they were up here visiting a relative.
“I was really worried the car was going to go up – it was quite scary actually. But it was a controlled situation, and everyone kept their heads on straight.”
The fire crews from Berkhamsted who were called to the scene made the vehicle safe by 7.30am, and told Lewis he’d done the right thing by putting it out as it could have escalated very quickly.
Lewis said: “It was a bit of an unusual morning – usually I just come in and bake some bread! Luckily no one was hurt, so that’s the main thing.”
Sarah said: “The two commuters were really lovely guys – they deserve a big thank you. The two ladies were very grateful to me. I’ve taken their details and I’ll be following up with them in a few days to make sure they’re OK.”