Lauren Bell’s ninth birthday party went up in smoke when a car carrying the buffet – and the cake – burst into flames.
Grandmother Val Leeming had spent hours creating a spread fit for a princess, only to see it destroyed in a spectacular blaze en route to the venue.
Lauren’s big day went ahead regardless, with a few onion bhajis, plates of replacement sandwiches and a candle-decked trifle as a substitute birthday cake.
But relatives are now planning to give her a “proper” celebration when she returns from a half-term break with friends.
“We’ve got to have another party to make up for what happened,” said Val.
“But I won’t be doing the buffet!
“We’d spent the previous day and then that morning preparing the food.
“But we didn’t expect it would end up as a barbecue.”
Val was driving her Vauxhall Zafira car to her grand-daughter’s home in Todd Lane North, Lostock Hall, when the blaze broke out.
“I was just driving along and suddenly I saw smoke coming up the windscreen,” she said.
“I hadn’t been going fast because there was a lot of traffic about.
“First off I thought the engine was overheating, so I pulled over and turned off the ignition and put my hazard lights on.
“But then I realised I had to get out and so I grabbed my handbag and jumped out.
“The whole thing went up in no time, there was nothing anyone could do.
“The car was completely burned out. I couldn’t believe it as I stood watching it engulfed in flames.
“When the fire brigade put it out, the only recognisable bit of the buffet left was the cake, although it wasn’t edible.
“I also lost a coffee machine I was taking to the party and my best serving dishes and cutlery.
“The cake was shaped like a cat’s face, because Lauren had just got a kitten for her birthday.
“She took it very well – she was just glad her grandma was all right.”