Packing camper hurt when gas bottle explodes at Glendhu Bay

BROOKE GARDINER IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013
Gas bottle explosion at Glendhu Bay
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A gas bottle explosion at the Glendhu Bay camping ground, near Wanaka, left one man with burns to his face, arms and legs.

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A Christchurch man suffered burns after his gas bottle exploded at a camping ground yesterday morning.

Constable Peter Reed, of Wanaka, said the man was disconnecting a 9kg gas bottle from a barbecue at Glendhu Bay camping ground when the bottle exploded in front of him.

"Gas was released in the process and unfortunately it was near to a pilot light for a gas fridge . . . It was a fair blow and the man got burns to his arms and legs and a cut to the face," Mr Reed said.

The man was the only person hurt and police commended him and others for responding quickly and appropriately.

"He managed to shield the blast from other people, and then he went to a tap. He did everything right."

The man was then taken to the lake to wait for emergency services to arrive.

Some clothing and other items were destroyed but luckily nearby tents were not burnt in the blaze, Mr Reed said.

"It was quite lucky for everyone it wasn't windy out there today."

It was not known whether the gas bottle was turned off before the man attempted to disconnect the barbecue.

"Probably not. We will look into it but the man has told us it was an accident and he wasn't expecting it to happen."

Police seized two gas canisters which would be checked, he said.

The man, who was packing at the time of the incident, was transported by ambulance to Wanaka Medical Centre for treatment.

A camper who witnessed the incident said there was a lot of screaming and lots of smoke.

"The explosion caused a fire which burnt all of the people's luggage which was packed up. I think it was kept going by aerosol cans."

The fire got quite big and a group of concerned campers rallied around to douse the area with as much water as possible until firefighters arrived, she said.

"There used to be a water tanker here but it's not here any more. Thank God it wasn't windy today," she said.

Queenstown Lakes District Council holiday parks manager Greg Hartshorne said the popular camping spot west of Wanaka was equipped with fire extinguishers and a hose as required by law.

Reports of campers using water to help prevent the fire from spreading were to be expected, he said.

"Unfortunately it takes X amount of minutes for the fire brigade to get out there from town. I would hope that someone would do that. It's a smart thing to do. It's pretty dry out there."

brooke.gardiner@stl.co.nz

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