Nearly 100 schoolchildren had an unusual start to their day as they used their phones to film a van on fire outside two schools in Ewell this morning.

Your Local Guardian:

The charred remains of the van on fire in Marsh Avenue this morning

Smoke was seen billowing from the van as it was consumed by flames in the middle of Marsh Avenue, Ewell as schoolchildren looked on.

The van was parked between Glyn School in The Kingsway and Blenheim High School in Longmead Road and a large crowd of schoolchildren gathered to watch it burn this morning before making their way to lessons.

Witness Patrick McCarthy, 44, a sales director from adjacent Gibraltar Crescent, filmed the fire on his phone.

He also spoke to the van driver, who told him he pulled over because he could "smell burning".

He said: "I had heard fire engines going off just as my son was leaving for school.

"There was a van on fire outside, and so I went inside and got my phone and started filming.

"It was not really properly alight when I first saw it, then it went up very quickly.

"A fire engine arrived and they just very casually whipped out the hoses and put it out. It was very good.

"They were very efficient at putting it out. It was quite exciting.

"I spoke to the driver of the van who didn't want to be named. He said he turned into the road and could smell burning and then pulled over and the vehicle was in flame in minutes.

"We are between the two schools and so there were loads of kids - at least between 50 and 100."

Your Local Guardian:

Firefighters from Epsom fire station were called to Marsh Avenue at 8.20am.

A spokesman said: "We used two hose reels and breathing apparatus to extinguish it.

"We were there for approximately 30 minutes.

"I can’t go into details because of insurance claims, but the cause appears to have been accidental."

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