The frantic attempts of Flaxmere residents trying to put out a car fire on Saturday night were of little help, as it quickly became uncontrollable.

Emergency services were called to the fire just before 9pm, in the carpark outside Flaxmere Liquor, on Swansea Rd.

Prior to that, however, several members attempted to extinguish the blaze.

A witness, who did not wish to be named, said: "All the cars were clearing the area real fast".

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"All you could see was smoke coming from the van then I started seeing sparks under the van and three guys trying to put a fire out with water.

"But it was too late. Then flames just got huge as and everyone was standing around watching, so my mum went into the bottle store and got the extinguisher but it was too well lit for that to have an effect."

Flaxmere Liquor manager, Ranjeet Singh said the store was "busy" at the time, and didn't realise anything was amiss until a man and a woman ran inside asking for water.

"When I looked outside, there were flames coming out of the parked car."

"We gave them the extinguisher, and they used it all, but it didn't work because the flame was really high," Singh said.

He called the fire brigade who came after five minutes.

"There were some people outside the store but I just told everyone to come inside and then I locked the door from the inside." They stayed inside for about 20 minutes and had the exit door unlocked in case they needed to get out.

Singh said he was worried about the store, as the flames were "too high".

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Fire communications shift manager Murray Dunbar said one appliance attended, and it was "well ablaze" by the time they arrived at the scene.

While he did not know how long it took to extinguish, he noted that car fires usually take about 30 minutes to put out upon arrival.

The incident has been referred to police.