Pohara explosion destroys caravan

UP IN FLAMES: Police and emergency services workers attend the scene of a large fire in Pohara on Friday morning.
UP IN FLAMES: Police and emergency services workers attend the scene of a large fire in Pohara on Friday morning.

A holidaymaker's caravan has been obliterated in a gas cylinder fire at Golden Bay.

The driver of a Toyota ute which was a towing a caravan stopped near the Pohara store for an ice-cream when a cylinder suddenly exploded, said constable Andy Palmer, of Takaka.

The caravan caught fire and was completely destroyed in the fierce fire at noon today.  The ute, which was parked outside the Ratanui Lodge and Penguin Cafe in Abel Tasman Drive was partly damaged.

The owner of the vehicle was too shocked and upset to speak.

Visitor to the area Robyn Thomas heard the explosion from the holiday home she is staying in on the hill behind. She said she then saw black smoke and was immediately worried it might have been someone in the kitchen of either the cafe or the lodge next door.

One bystander said of the driver's decision to stop, that it was ''the luckiest ice cream he ever had''.

Diane Chester, who is visiting from the United Kingdom, said she felt the heat of the fire across the road in the Pohara campground, from about 20 metres away.

Witnesses also saw the sign outside the Ratanui Lodge surrounded in flames, which was close to there the caravan had been parked.

Nelson