A woman is in a serious condition after suffering severe burns to 25 per cent of her body in a car fire.

Emergency services were called to Kohu St in Parahaki, Whangarei, about 7.30pm.

A northern fire communications spokesman said the victim suffered serious burns to 25 per cent of her body and was taken to hospital.

He said they were called to reports of a car fire.

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It is understood the woman and her partner had been attempting to start their vehicle when the accident happened.

Local fire senior station officer, Paul Ballentine, told Stuff.co.nz the woman had been standing near the engine as her partner poured petrol into the carburettor when it backfired on her.

"The fire mostly consumed the poor lady,'' he told the publication.

"Her partner had done the right thing beforehand. He put the fire out and put her in the shower for 20 minutes.''