A mother from Scotland is thanking her lucky stars that her 7-year-old son was not inside his toy car when it burst into flames on Dec. 26.
Pauline Thomson of Dundee, Scotland, recounted the harrowing experience to The Scottish Sun, telling the outlet that her son and six cousins were playing with a ride-on Mercedes from Kids Cars Direct just moments before it caught fire in a wooded area of the family’s garden. The kids had left it there after the battery became depleted.
“My son came back about 10 minutes later to go push it up the hill to charge the car and there was flames leaping out of the seat,” Thomson, 43, told the U.K. publication of the toy vehicle she’d gotten her son for Christmas the previous year.
“He came inside and shouted [to] his dad and it very quickly became a big fire,” Thomson added, admitting she was “in shock” at the blaze. “It was pretty horrendous, the flames were about 6 to 8 feet tall.”
“There’s a seat-belt strap inside it so it doesn’t bear thinking about if one of the children were inside the car. There was about seven children there when it happened but thankfully none of them were near the car,” she continued. “It would have meant they would have been strapped in and trapped there while it was on fire.”
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Thomson, a mother of three, spoke with both The Scottish Sun and U.K. outlet The Courier regarding the “concerning and frightening” incident, saying she is “relieved” her “children are safe.”
“It could have been a tragic accident. Imagine if one of our children had been inside,” she told The Courier, adding, according to both publications, “The car is normally inside our house too so if it had happened indoors it could have destroyed our home.”
Despite the scary turn of events, Thomson told The Courier that Kids Cars Direct was “excellent” at communicating with her regarding the fire, saying, “We have been blown over with how cooperative they have been.”
“The managing director was on the phone within several hours,” she explained, according to both The Courier and The Scottish Sun. “They were going to collect it but the car was completely destroyed so there was no point. Our main concern is that we wanted to make sure people are aware this has happened.”
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The Courier reports that they weren’t able to learn a possible cause for the fire from Kids Cars Direct, but that the company has notified all other customers “who purchased cars from the same batch.”
Both The Scottish Sun and The Courier report that the Mercedes model — which was manufactured by children’s-product company Kalee — was discontinued and is no longer available to buy, being replaced with a “more popular model” in 2017.
“An investigation has been launched by ourselves in conjunction with the manufacturer and that this particular car has not been for sale on our website for over a year and the batch that this came from was imported in mid 2017 and totaled 30 cars,” said a spokesman for Kids Cars Direct, according to The Scottish Sun.
“The manufacturer (Kalee) have confirmed that they haven’t experienced this issue previously and I can confirm that neither have we,” the spokesperson continued. “Kalee are a large manufacturer that has sold this particular item and similar models across the world into global retailers. … The affected car was a licensed Mercedes car.”