A Gisborne man was dragged clear of a burning car after it left State Highway 2 in the Wharerata Hills south of Gisborne and crashed.
The car the 74-year-old was driving on a delivery trip for a vehicle dealer left the highway on the Wairoa side of the Wharerata lookout.
"Passers-by saw the crashed car, saw smoke coming from it and stopped to help the man out of the vehicle," a Wairoa St John ambulance spokeswoman said.
"Because of the way the vehicle landed when it crashed, he was physically unable to get out and needed help.
"He told us a young man came to the car and helped to drag him out."
The man was extremely grateful for the help he received, she said.
The fire spread to engulf the whole car.
Police from nearby Nuhaka, the fire service and St John Ambulance staff from Wairoa were called to the scene just after midday yesterday.
"It was totally destroyed by the fire, and it set alight grass and the blackberry bushes around it," said Wairoa deputy fire chief Barry Gasson.
"It was fully involved when we arrived."
It took firemen about 25 minutes to fully extinguish it.
"We had to crawl through the blackberry to get at it," Mr Gasson said.
"The car was lying on its side in the scrub and the driver did not have the strength to get out the door on his own.
"He was very lucky that there were others driving by at the time the fire started."
Two of the passers-by were doctors.
"It's good to see the public are willing to get involved in circumstances like this," Mr Gasson said.
The driver was not seriously hurt.
"He suffered some minor lacerations and we took him to Wairoa Hospital for treatment and observation."
The Japanese import Mitsubishi Colt hatchback was being delivered to Gisborne for a vehicle sales firm. A company spokesman said today the driver was at home recovering.
"He's doing fine and we are relieved about that."
- The Gisborne Herald