Fire has put paid to holiday plans of a young Ashhurst couple after the living area of their home-built campervan was destroyed by fire early yesterday afternoon.
The fire was noticed by a motorist following Alan Bishop's Mazda van as it made its way up the Ratana Hill on SH3.
That driver tried to warn the family by flashing his lights all the way up the hill.
"When we realised something was wrong, we had to carry on down the other side [to Turakina] before we had room to pull off to the side of the highway," Mr Bishop said.
The Marton Fire Brigade responded to the alarm and extinguished the fire, but not before it gutted the living area behind the double cab. Firemen said an electrical fault in the lighting of the living area may have caused the fire.
Fortunately for Mr Bishop, his partner and two children, aged four-and-a-half and 18 months, all of them were travelling in the separate double cab in the front of the vehicle.
The family were on their way home after spending a weekend in Wanganui in their campervan.
They had bought the Mazda flat-deck truck about six months ago and covered in the rear deck with beds and a small kitchen.
The vehicle had a value of about $16,000 and was insured.
"We've only been away in the van a couple of times. We had planned a longer holiday, and that was to happen in about three weeks' time," Mr Bishop said.
But he was thankful the family was safe.
"That's one of the reasons we bought a double-cab, because we didn't want the kids riding in the back," he said.
They managed to save most of their possessions, including a newly acquired cat.
"He befriended us from the time we arrived at the camp ground, and the holiday park owner said we could take him.
"He was getting a hard time at the camp, so we borrowed a cage from the SPCA to bring him with us."