THIS is the dramatic moment a Mercedes 4x4 turned into a fireball on the owner's driveway.

Roger May, 77, of Powell Crescent in Totton, had just returned from an abortive trip to the shops when smoke started pouring from beneath the dashboard.

He ran indoors to grab a spanner to disconnect the battery - but by the time he got outside again the vehicle was a mass of flames.

The blazing vehicle was only a few feet from Mr May's front door.

Last night the pensioner the flames caused only minor damage to his other vehicle, which was directly in front of the Mercedes, and a car parked in a neighbour's driveway.

He added: "It could have been a lot worse - one of the houses could have gone up."

The blaze was tackled by crews from three fire stations, Totton, Redbridge and St Mary's, who were on the scene for about an hour.

A passer-by said: "I was walking home with my sister when we noticed a flickering of light in the distance. I said 'something's on fire' and as we got closer we saw it was a car on someone's drive.

"I immediately phoned the fire brigade and they arrived soon after to put it out."

Mr May added: "I went out to get some milk and got as far as Junction Road when I realised I hadn't got any money.

"As I got back to the house smoke began pouring out from under the dashboard on the passenger side and melting plastic started dripping down.

"I went indoors to get a spanner to disconnect the battery but when I went out again I couldn't get anywhere near the vehicle - the flames were about 20ft high.

"The thing which surprised was how fast it happened. By the time the fire brigade arrived it was a raging inferno - totally out of control.

"If I'd known what was about to occur I'd have left it in the road instead of turning into my driveway.

The fire caused minor damage to the back of Mr May's other car, which was parked between the Mercedes and his front door. The intense heat also melted the wing mirror of his neighbour's vehicle.

The blaze, which broke out on Friday at around 10.30pm, reduced the ten-year-old vehicle to a charred shell.

Mr May said: "I thought it would last me for years - it's had a lot money spent on it. But no-one was killed or injured - that's the main thing."

The blaze is thought to have been caused by an electrical fault and is not being treated as suspicious.

A Hampshire police spokesman said: "We were made aware of this incident but the fire service did not request our attendance."