Mercedes launches probe into Roche's car inferno
Published 30/12/2011 | 05:00
MERCEDES Ireland have launched a full scale investigation into how a former government minister's luxury car -- which is a little over a year old -- inexplicably burst into flames.
Dick Roche was driving in Wexford with his wife, Eleanor, when his top-of-the-range Merc unexpectedly lost power and began to trudge along the road.
The couple were lucky to escape with their lives before the vehicle burst into flames on St Stephen's Day.
Mr Roche says he and his wife are fortunate to be alive and is mystified how something of this nature could happen to a car of a reputable marque.
"It's amazing it happened in a new car, particularly given it's a Mercedes which has a good reputation," he told the Irish Independent.
"But I just don't know what caused it. The people I've been dealing with at the garage are mystified. I believe there are stories on the internet about similar fires of this nature.
"It was a serious fire and very shocking at the time but thankfully nobody was killed. The car is a complete write-off. The insurance company have sent an assessor to have a look at it and Mercedes are investigating what happened.
"A couple of motorists were vigorously flashing their lights at us but I just thought they were being impatient because I was driving very slowly at the time. They had noticed something red and glowing underneath the car but of course I couldn't see the flames."
Recalling the event, Mr Roche says he and his wife were lucky to escape with their lives.
"When I pulled over into the car park of the Ferrycarrig Hotel we spotted the fire coming from underneath the car.
"Luckily the tank in the car didn't blow up and it was the only part of the car that wasn't completely destroyed. The diesel cap had bubbled but the tank didn't explode and the two front wheels just melted.
"When we were trying to put the fire out the intensity of the heat was overpowering. The bonnet is aluminium which is a safety feature in that particular version of the Mercedes. But it literally burnt and sparks started to fly off it."
A spokesperson from Mercedes Ireland says Mr Roche has been provided with a courtesy car while a full scale investigation is carried out.
"It's an unfortunate occurrence that one would be left without their car. His dealer in Deansgrange has simply stepped into the breach to get him back on road while all the inquiries are taking place."