Children injured when the caravan they were sleeping in caught fire had barely a minute and a half to escape before it was engulfed in flames, firefighters say.

Two children, believed to be aged 7 and 9, suffered smoke inhalation and burns in the fire on Rereatukahia Rd, Katikati, at 11pm yesterday.

Katikati senior firefighter Brendan Gibbs said the children were asleep inside the caravan at the time of the fire. It was lucky they managed to get themselves out of the vehicle when they did, Gibbs said.

"They would have had about a minute to a minute and a half at the most before it was completely well involved," he said.

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"Caravans, and those types of things, burn very quickly. When we got there, there wasn't much left of it."

A former firefighter who lives in the area helped take control of the scene to ensure everyone was safe before the brigade arrived.

Gibbs said a caravan LPG cylinder was being replaced near a naked candle flame when there was an explosion, which appeared to have started the fire.

"It was quite a bang," Gibbs said.

Firefighters treated the children's burns with cold water, and comforted them until St John ambulance staff arrived. It is understood both children were taken to Tauranga Hospital as a precaution.

Gibbs said there was a tangi in the area at the time.