Blazes prompt call to check caravan fridges

02:36, Feb 14 2014
caravan fire
IN FLAMES: Waitaki Valley fire crews have dealt with a spate of caravan fires at camp sites in the last month.

A spate of caravan fires in the last month at Otematata and Kurow has local fire crews worried.

The latest fire occurred during the weekend. The caravan owners, Pareora couple Mike and Trina McEwing, are urging people to get their gear checked.

Kurow Volunteer Fire Brigade chief John Sturgeon said it was the third caravan fire it had responded to over the last month.

"It appears that all of them were caused by faulty gas connections and placement of gas fridges near or close to awnings. The latest one was pretty bad. By the time we got to the scene, all that was left was a box of cornflakes," he said.

Mrs McEwing had parked the caravan while camping near Parson's Rock in Otematata on Friday, but spotted smoke coming out of the back.

"I went to check it out, but by the time I got there, it was totally in flame," she said. "It looked like a molten snowman. Everything was gone within minutes."


The Kurow and Otematata fire brigades attended the scene, but by the time they arrived, the caravan was destroyed.

Mr McEwing said they had bought the caravan just two weeks ago.

"The fridge was not inside the caravan - it was not a fixture of the caravan, so there was no problem with gas lines or bottles or whatever else. It was a brand new fridge bought last year," he said.

"We had the fridge in a well ventilated area and it was checked a lot by us. We had it going at Christmas time for eight days with no problem. We watched seven years of accumulating our camping gear just disappear in smoke."

Mrs McEwing said one of the burnt caravans was still at the Parson's Rock site when they camped there.

"We couldn't believe the sight ... and then it happened to us," she said.

Mr Sturgeon said holidaymakers should check their gas fridges before using them.

"If family groups with caravans and awnings are closely grouped together, any fault that occurred could endanger the whole area."

The Timaru Herald