A DRIVER who blew his car up when he lit a cigarette after spraying air freshener said tonight: “I’m lucky to be here.”
Carl Fisher, 29, who suffered horrific burns, added he had unwittingly been “driving around in a bomb” in Halifax, West Yorks.
Shell-shocked Carl said: “I’ll never use an aerosol air freshener again.
“In future I’ll dangle one from my rear-view mirror.”
The joiner told The Sun how he unwittingly turned his beloved black Seat into a “primed bomb” by spraying the aerosol inside it.
Ten minutes later he lit a cigarette, which ignited gas from the spray and caused a huge explosion.
Carl suffered horrific burns to his face and hands as the blast blew out the car’s windscreen and windows and buckled the doors.
As he recovered from his injuries at home in Halifax, West Yorks, he recalled: “There was an almighty noise that deafened me and a blinding light when it went off.
“I’m incredibly lucky to be here. I should be dead right now.
“Seeing the damage to my car I can’t believe I managed to get out alive.
‘MIRACLE BEFORE CHRISTMAS’
“I was literally driving around in a primed bomb and I didn’t have a clue until I went to light a Benson & Hedges and it went off.
“I have no idea how or why I was so lucky. It’s a miracle before Christmas.”
Sitting with his hands bandaged, Carl admitted his first thought was: “I’ve been caught in a terror attack.”
He had been getting ready for his work’s Christmas party on the Saturday before last.
He drove into town, got a haircut, bought some new clothes and purchased a £7.99 Alpha Power Blast air freshener with a “new car” scent.
Carl said: “I gave it a gentle spray and put it into the back of the car.
“It was quite a powerful smell so I opened all of the windows before I drove off.
“I’d been driving for about ten minutes when I got into Halifax town centre.
“The scent had pretty much gone so I wound my windows up and reached for my B&H.
“I got my lighter and as soon as I clicked it the explosion happened.
“I remember the pressure of it blowing up on my body and everything lighting up in front of me.
“There was a bright white light.
“I think I closed my eyes and lifted my hands up over my face.
“It felt like it lasted for ages.
“When I opened my eyes I looked around.
“There was silence for a moment.
“My ears were ringing.
“I had no idea what had happened but there were no windows left in my car.
“My windscreen was also gone.
“There was smoke around me. I was in shock.
“I tried the driver’s door but it was jammed shut.
“That’s when I climbed out of the window. I was shaking but managed to get out.
LUCKY TO SURVIVE
“I could feel an intense heat on my face and on my hands.
“My face felt extremely hot.
“My hair had been singed and my beard was no more.”
The blast also blew out the windows of a nearby business.
Carl was taken by ambulance to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and then moved to Pinderfields burns unit in Wakefield — where he has follow-up appointments.
Medics could not believe he survived.
Carl said: “They all wanted to see pictures of my car.
“They couldn’t believe I walked away in one piece.”
He is expected to fully recover from his burns, but has now issued a warning to other drivers.
Carl said: “If you’re using aerosol air fresheners in your car, don’t smoke.”
Fire investigation officer John Cavalier advised: “When using aerosols please keep in mind a large content is often LPG gas, which is explosive.
“Don’t be complacent when using any aerosol products. Use them in well-ventilated areas and read the instructions thoroughly before use.”
A police spokesman said: “Follow guidelines when using air fresheners.”