TWO people had a lucky escape after a car burst into flames on a main road into Newport tonight.

Michael Salmon and his friend Sharon Smith, both from Caldicot, had been shopping at Morrisons when Mr Salmon's car, a diesel VW Golf, started emitting sparks as they travelled along Cardiff Road during rush hour in the rain.

"I thought she had dropped her cigarette," explained Mr Salmon, 32, who takes his friend shopping most weeks. "I pulled the car over quickly and we got out."

The pair managed to rescue several bags of shopping before the car burst into flames at around 5.40pm.

Jennie Griffiths, head of control at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service tweeted to say the fire service had received 11 phone calls about the blaze, which was extinguished by White Watch fire fighters from Duffryn station within minutes.

Once the main fire in the cabin of the car was extinguished, fire fighters prised open the bonnet where the engine was still alight.

Mr Salmon said if it had been a petrol rather than a diesel car it would have "gone up".

Cars continued to drive past the car when it was on fire but fire fighters were eventually able to cordon off the wreckage, which continued to smoulder on the pavement and sent a plume of acrid white smoke hundreds of feet into the air.

Catherine Weir, who lives nearby, was walking her dog Chester along Bideford Road when she saw flames and heard what she described as "a huge bang" coming from Cardiff Road, opposite the South Wales Argus offices.

Mr Salmon said he had only owned the car for a few days and while it was of little value compared to his other vehicles, the keys and fobs for the other cars had been destroyed in the fire, which would cost around £1,000 to replace.