A Kumara woman who was seriously burned when a generator exploded in her face had to run 50m to her neighbours for help.

Greymouth chief fire officer Alan McEnaney said the 61-year-old was burned when the generator she was filling blew up last night.

The explosion caused a large fire, which was well ablaze when the Kumara and Greymouth Volunteer Fire Brigades arrived about midnight.

The woman, who lives alone in a house truck in Kumara, was rushed to Grey Base Hospital. Today she was in a stable condition and likely to be transferred to Christchurch Hospital.

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A Greymouth St John spokesman said the victim received burns to her head, face, hands and feet.

Her neighbours, who were at the scene of the fire this morning, said the victim arrived at their house, yelling for help.

The couple, who did not want to be named, were very shaken by the accident.

They telephoned emergency services straight away but the fire was "out of control." They cared for the woman, who was "very brave", until the ambulance arrived.

The truck was parked in the bush, and received minor damage. However, the storage area beside it, where the generator was, was badly damaged by the fire.

The blaze is being investigated and a fire safety spokesman said today that they were not sure exactly what happened.

The woman's neighbours said they were pleased they were friends "otherwise I don't know if she would have come to us for help".

They said their neighbour had lived there for about five years, her husband worked away from the area and efforts were being made today to make contact with him.

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"Our priority today is to visit her and make sure she is doing all right."