Driver, passengers escape as car ignites

The driver of a car pulled over in time for himself and his passengers to get out before the engine burst into flames at Clarence on State Highway 1.

Sergeant Julian Lewis, of Kaikoura, said the five Nelson men, aged 18 and 19, were heading to Christchurch on Wednesday night when they noticed their car overheating and the temperature gauge soaring.

The driver pulled over about 40 kilometres north of Kaikoura shortly before 10pm. The men got out in time to see the engine erupt into flames, Mr Lewis said.

Kaikoura Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Ian Walker said the fire spread to grass on the side of the road, burning an area about 30 metres by 15m. The Clarence rural fire party assisted.

The car was a write-off.

"It was pure luck there was no wind, it would have been a disaster," Mr Walker said.

Mr Lewis said the car was an older model and the incident had been put down to an electrical fault.

Police drove the men to Kaikoura and dropped them off at a camping ground.

The Marlborough Express