A 12-year-old Tauranga boy is in a stable condition in Waikato Hospital following a freak explosion in Gate Pa last night.

The boy was flown by Tauranga's TECT rescue helicopter to Waikato Hospital for treatment after a petrol container he was carrying burst into flames and then exploded.

The boy had been carrying the container on a property in Gate Pa and suffered burns to his face, neck and hands.

The Waikato DHB said the boy had undergone surgery this morning and was now in a stable condition.

Rescue helicopter pilot Liam Brettkelly said the boy's condition was serious when he was transferred from Tauranga Hospital about 8pm.

The flight was carried out with the use of night vision equipment.

It is understood the boy's parents brought their son into Tauranga Hospital after the incident.

Tauranga firefighters were not alerted to the incident but Tauranga fire risk management officer Ken McKeagg said these kinds of incidents often happened when someone was trying to start a fire or barbecue.

He said it was important to keep petrol away from naked flames, lit cigarettes and even a fire that might appear to have gone out.

"A lot of people seem to think if you kick the container over, it will go out.

"It doesn't. It just spreads everywhere and then you really have a fire."

A year ago Greerton teen Tenmark Nielson was flown to Middlemore Hospital in a critical condition after an incident where his body was engulfed in fire outside his family home.

The 16-year-old suffered burns to half of his body. A petrol container was also involved in the incident.

In September 2009, another 16-year-old boy suffered severe burns when the petrol container he was holding exploded. The boy was burning off garden rubbish at his Maketu home, using petrol as an accelerant before turning and walking away when the petrol caught alight. He suffered burns to his arms and face.