Car catches fire, nearly crashes into Coral Springs strip mall; driver OK

CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. (WSVN) - A driver behind the wheel of a car on fire narrowly escaped crashing into a strip mall in Coral Springs.

Firefighters with the Coral Springs Fire Department responded to the scene along North University Drive and Wiles Road just before 1 p.m., Thursday.

7Skyforce HD flew over the scene where the car could be seen up on the strip mall platform, just feet away from a pizza shop.

The driver, Alexandra Hazey, said her brakes stopped working, so she moved to pull into the Pine Ridge Square shopping plaza.

Hazey’s father, Rick Hazey, said the vehicle caught fire moments later.

“She smelled smoke, she tried to apply the brakes, and the brakes weren’t working,” he said.

Surveillance video shows the burning gray sedan driving through the strip mall.

Bystanders watched as flames began shooting from under the car.

“It was de-accelerating, but I opened my door because it wasn’t stopping,” said Hazey. “Even me putting the gear shift into park, it wasn’t stopping. Like, I opened my door, and I was like, ‘Help!’ I was like, ‘Move! Get out of the way!'”

Hazey said witnesses told her to dive out of the car.

“They told me to jump, so I just jumped out of the car,” she said. “The car just kept going straight, and then I saw that flames were on it.”

The vehicle smashed into a concrete planter box in front of a pizzeria at the strip mall, where it came to rest.

“The good thing, there was something to stop it,” said Hazey.

“You could see some smoke coming from the front and a little bit of fire,” said Harry Behrend, the pizzeria’s manager, “and then it just got bigger and bigger, and we evacuated everybody out the back door. There was a lot of commotion going on in there.”

Witnesses said the car then burst into flames.

“We just saw smoke just billowing out of the car,” said a woman.

7News viewer Robert Reggio recorded cellphone video of the burning car.

“I’m scared, I’m freaked out, but overall, thank God I wasn’t in there,” said Hazey.

Hazey’s father said he received a frantic phone call from her.

“She called me, and she was in hysterics, crying,” said Rick Hazey. “She said, ‘Dad, my car just caught on fire!’ Of course, I’m like, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I jumped out.'”

Rescue officials said one victim was treated at the scene.

Rick Hazey said he’s thankful this daughter was not hurt.

“I’m just grateful, thankful to God. It could have been way worse,” he said.

Behrend said what ultimately saved the day was that planter box.

“I’m happy that the planter was there. That car would have come right in if it was a couple of feet over to the right,” he said. “It would have come right into the restaurant, with a lot of people in the restaurant.”

The damage was confined to a small area where the planter box is located.

Even though she was not injured, Hazey went to an area hospital to be checked out just to be on the safe side.

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