A DRIVER who managed to flee his car seconds before it was engulfed by flames was saved by quick-thinking bystanders.

Witnesses reported seeing the blaze start underneath the car, which was parked in Eastern Esplanade, Canvey, on Wednesday.

It is believed two onlookers managed to alert the driver, who was inside the car on his phone, just in time by tapping on the car window.

Bob Spink, from Canvey, was visiting the seafront with his family when the car burst into flames.

The 70-year-old said: “I was on the beach with my grandchildren at the time. They noticed smoke rising in the sky behind us so we went to the top of the seawall to see what was going on and that’s when we saw the blaze.

“Loads of people had crowded from the beach so my first thought was automatically that the new flats had gone up in flames.

“It turns out the poor driver’s Mercedes was on fire. Luckily he had managed to get out just in time.

“I’m told there were two boys who tapped on the window of his car to warn him when they’d seen the car alight.

“He’d pulled up to the car park entrance to talk on the phone and had no idea there was flames underneath the car.

“The flames were quite large, so we stayed back to make sure my grandchildren were safe. Being two 14-year old boys, they loved it.

“I believe that it started to smoke again a bit later on where it was still hot, so the fire service came back to make sure it was all safe.”

The grandfather added: “Well done to the boys who helped out and warned the driver. It could’ve been a lot worse, it’s lucky he wasn’t driving at the time.”

A spokesperson for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “We received reports of a car fire on the Eastern Esplanade, Canvey, at 5.11pm Wednesday.

“Crews managed to extinguish the fire by 5.30pm.

“The cause of the fire was accidental.”