A car fire on South Steyne in Manly yesterday morning, Monday 1 May, was extinguished with no one injured, the two owners having escaped moments earlier. Emergency services temporarily closed the busy seafront road after the vehicle exploded into flames.
Police revealed there is nothing to suggest the fire is suspicious. Furthermore, the car was not stolen, it was not an electric vehicle with a faulty lithium battery, and it appears to be a case of bad luck.
Only minutes into a drive back from Shelly Beach, owner Eli Bieri noticed his car beginning to splutter and stall. The noises coming from the car struck him as somewhat unusual, considering it had been in for a service and cleared to drive by a mechanic only a few weeks earlier.
Still some distance from where he is living with partner Roxy in Freshwater, they stopped along South Steyne in Manly to find out what was wrong.
“My partner Roxy noticed smoke pouring out from under the hood,” he recalled, “so I jumped out and she popped the bonnet. At that point, the engine was already in flames!”
Eli continued, “There were a lot of bystanders who immediately helped us… as the entire front of the car went up in flames. People were helping us grab our surfboards off the roof and everything before it exploded, including documents from the glovebox and our gear.
“We’re living out of our car, so we had almost everything [we own] in there,” Eli revealed.
The fire department was quick to arrive and put out the blaze. An electrical issue is suspected to be behind the incident, and the car has been towed away to determine what set it alight.
Eli and Roxy are yet to find out how much they’ll be charged for the wreckage to be moved and inspected, but they credit the community response for the fire not completely upending their stay on the Beaches.
“The community has just been amazing,” Eli enthused. “It is just amazing to have a community that has reached out to us immediately. We had so many friends calling, asking if we needed a place to stay, or borrow a car, or needed a ride anywhere.”
The couple have only recently become locals, living around the Northern Beaches since moving here in winter last year. Roxy is from the Netherlands and moved with Eli from Michigan so he could pursue a Masters of Biology at UNSW.
“We’re not from here originally,” Eli confirmed. “A really lovely couple offered to tow our caravan up to Freshwater, so we didn’t have to pay to get it towed.”
In the meantime, Eli and Roxy will be crashing at a friend’s house nearby.
“Luckily, we’ve got some good friends in the area, including one in Freshwater who’s letting us park the caravan outside her house and use her bathroom and everything,” he said. “So, that’s a bit of a short-term solution, but we are still unsure what we’re going to do going forward.”
Eli still has a year left of his Masters program, and Roxy is working full-time in the CBD, with both of them using the ferry to commute into the city. They hope to find a more permanent solution and remain on the Beaches.
“Sometimes I start to take the view [while riding the Ferry] for granted,” Eli said, “but when you see tourists taking photos and videos, you’re like ‘Wow! This is a pretty beautiful place that we live in!'”
Eli confirmed the vehicle had only recently returned from a mechanic.
“We actually just had the car serviced and had some repairs done a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “The mechanic told us it was in pretty good nick, and told us we shouldn’t sell the car.
“So yeah, I guess now we’re just going to be saving up for a new car,” he shrugged. “If anyone wants to help us out with that we would be more than appreciative.”