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Remutaka inferno: Campervan explodes on hill

PHOTO/SUPPLIED

TOM TAYLOR
[email protected]

A campervan caught fire on Remutaka Hill on Monday morning, stopping traffic in both directions.

A Fire and Emergency spokesperson said they received a call about the fire at 10.18am.

The campervan had stopped on the Wellington side of the hill, about 3km from the summit.

The spokesperson said they understood the campervan was mobile when the fire started.

There were no injuries reported.

Two trucks from Featherston and one from Remutaka, as well as a tanker from Carterton, attended the fire and extinguished the vehicle.

Remutaka station officer Dean Stirling said that thick black smoke was blowing across the road on the way to the incident.

“When we got there, it was basically a smouldering mess,” he said.

“We dumped about three or four tank-loads of water on it to make sure it was out.”

Stirling said about 20m2 of bush on the hillside had also caught alight.

He said an elderly couple had been driving the brand-new campervan, which had an estimated value of $250,000.

He said LPG cylinders on the side of the campervan had burst and exploded by the time the Remutaka brigade arrived.

The Featherston brigade assisted with the hillside fire while the Carterton tanker refilled the Remutaka brigade.

Police attended the incident from about 10.25am and assisted Fire and Emergency.

A police spokesperson advised motorists to expect delays and avoid the area if possible.

MetService’s Remutaka Pass traffic camera showed two fire engines heading back to Featherston at 11.12am.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency updated its journey planner at 10.48am, stating that the road was closed between Kaitoke and Featherston due to the fire.

Waka Kotahi asked motorists to follow the directions of emergency services.

At 11.40am, the journey planner was updated to state that stop/go traffic management and a 30kmh temporary speed limit were in place after the fire.

A Waka Kotahi spokesperson reported some damage to the road surface. They said the vehicle was removed at about 1pm.

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