Dick Roche speaks of relief after he and wife escape blazing Merc
THE FORMER minister has spoken of his relief after escaping a car just before it was engulfed in flames.
Dick Roche's 2010-registered Mercedes burst into flames as he and his wife were enjoying a St Stephen's Day drive.
He said he had notified the dealership he bought the car from, as well as his insurance company, and said they would be looking at the incident over the coming days.
But he said the cause of the fire has yet to determined and it is unlikely to be resolved until after the holidays.
"Well, it's the holiday period so you don't know how long it will take them to look at it. Nobody quite knows what happened. Someone was speculating that it was the catalytic convertor, but that's just speculation."
Mr Roche, who was previously environment and European affairs minister, was driving in his Mercedes E200 during a visit to his family in his native Wexford at the time.
Dramatic pictures showing the charred shell of Mr Roche's vehicle illustrate the lucky escape by Mr Roche and his wife, Eleanor.
Fuel also started to leak from the tank as the fired blazed.
"We were lucky it was diesel, not petrol," Mr Roche said last night.
The ex-Wicklow TD said the whole incident happened in the space of about five minutes after the car's engine started to fail.
Mr Roche said motorists behind noticed sparks and flames belching from underneath, but he only spotted this when he pulled over into the car park of the Ferrycarrig Hotel, which is situated just outside Wexford town.
"People started flashing their lights because they though we were slowing down," Mr Roche said last night. The car stuttered a number of times, leading Mr Roche to pull into the hotel.
It was then he noticed the flames licking from under the wheels, and he ran to get a fire extinguisher -- but it failed to stop the flames.
The flames also caused some damage to the exterior of the hotel building, bur Mr Roche praised hotel staff and firefighters for their help.