An eyewitness has described the "surreal" moment a burning, driverless bus turned away from a home minutes before the fire spread, saying the experience was "paranormal".
Aucklander Craig Meek and his daughter Aimee were visiting family in Raumati Beach on the Kāpiti Coast in June when they smelled gas and wandered outside to see a neighbour's house bus fully alight on the street outside.
Meek said the bus owner was concerned that the gas cylinder aboard the bus would ignite, leading to an explosion that would threaten his neighbour's home and other properties.
"The next minute the lights turned on and just at the moment the hedge was going up, that was when the bus decided to drive off," he told the Herald.
Meek said the ferocity of the fire meant the blaze would have "definitely taken out the house" if it hadn't made the sudden lurch across the road.
Meek said the experience was "surreal" and labelled it "paranormal".
He told the Herald that onlookers were already startled by the bus's lights turning on and off before it began to move at what he said was the "perfect time".
The bus then veered across the road and came to rest against a neighbour's tennis court, one of the few spots on the road where it would not have threatened a house.
Meek said as they watched the fire, the bus's owner was telling him about the great days he had enjoyed with his wife on board the bus and recalled him saying "she would be on the bus".
That's when Meek said he learned that the man's wife had died three years ago, aboard the very same bus.
The bus owner can be heard on video speculating about his late wife's role, remarking: "I wonder if it's my wife taking it away," adding that she "probably didn't want the neighbour to burn down".
The video soon attracted plenty of attention online, where commenters speculated on the more likely mechanical causes of the bus's sudden lurch.
Most attributed the movement to the fire causing the starter motor to short-circuit and the bus being left in gear, while others argued whether that explanation covered the bus's ability to complete the turn and move across the road.
Meek said he had read the theories but said the sequence of events was "weird", citing the lights turning on, the engine starting and the bus moving away from danger as a seemingly lucky set of coincidences.
"It's the timing that's bizarre," he said, noting that, had the bus stayed a few minutes more in that spot, the damage would have been a lot worse.
Meek's daughter Aimee can be heard on video questioning the length of time it took for firefighters to arrive but Meek said they arrived within 10 minutes of the call and video shows them extinguishing the blaze.
Meek said it was his first time making a TikTok and the video had surged in popularity since he posted it earlier this week.
His daughter Aimee, who works in film, also filmed the incident and told her father that she couldn't have set up a shot like that if had she tried.
The Herald contacted Fire and Emergency NZ for comment, who were unable to respond due to ongoing industrial action and the length of the time since the incident.