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Car Bursts Into Flames Near City Hall Park

By Jeanmarie Evelly | November 26, 2012 2:48pm

CIVIC CENTER — A car burst into flames Monday on Broadway near City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan — leaving its driver scrambling to escape in time.

Cesar Callan, 55, a personal injury lawyer, said he was driving his 2007 Audi down Broadway near City Hall when he noticed smoke. At first, he thought it was coming from a manhole in the street. Then someone yelled that his car was in flames, he said.

“The words I heard were, ‘Hey buddy, your car is on fire,’” said Callan, who said he pulled over in front of the Woolworth Building, at 233 Broadway, and went to a nearby hot dog vendor to fetch some water before realizing the flames were getting too big for him to put out himself.

An FDNY spokesman said firefighters responded to a call about a car leaking fuel at 11:30 a.m. The fire was contained and no injuries were reported, the spokesman said.

Callan said he yelled for everyone on the street to clear the area once he realized the fire was growing.

“I got out, and everyone else is safe,” he said.

Many on the sidewalk darted inside a nearby Starbucks as flames shot out of the front end of the vehicle and firefighters doused the blaze with water.

Callan said he was on his way to his office at 225 Broadway when the incident occurred. After the fire was extinguished, he sorted through his water-soaked car, collecting personal items from the trunk and back seat. A firefighter handed him his E-ZPass.

Callan said he didn’t know what caused the fire and that he hasn't had any trouble with the vehicle.

“I have the car maintained all the time,” he said.