A car exploded into flames following a five car pile-up on a bridge near Haumoana yesterday, after a tourist stopped to take photos.
Senior Constable Iain Cheyne said a German traveller stopped on the two-lane bridge on Mill Rd, which crosses Tukituki River west of the seaside village.
"The tourist's vehicle was certainly instrumental in the crash, after the driver of another vehicle stopped on the bridge to see if the tourist needed assistance, before two other vehicles that were following crashed into the back of them."
Mr Cheyne said what "added to the drama" was another car, "totally unrelated" to the initial accident, which was driven past the scene before bursting into flames.
"It was certainly a strange and unusual day and it all become very dramatic.
"I'm not sure why it caught fire, or how, but it was all a little weird."
The driver of the engulfed car said he managed to avoid the pile-up and stop before his car ignited, "possibly due to transmission fluid".
Mr Cheyne said police were continuing their investigation into the crash but indicated there would be "consequences" following the accident.
"Drivers should definitely not stop on a bridge like that. It was one lane each way and there is no way there is adequate stopping space for a vehicle to pull over.
"Following the crash on Monday, people need to be aware of what's happening in front of them. Both of these crashes could have been avoided if people had kept safer distances when travelling behind a vehicle."
The bridge was temporarily closed as emergency services worked to clear the wreckage.
On Monday, a four-vehicle pile-up blocked Hawke's Bay Expressway on the Tutaekuri River bridge for more than an hour.
A man was trapped in his ute with leg injuries and a woman was admitted to hospital with chest injuries
Motorist Brenda Morrell said she was heading home from Haumoana yesterday when she saw what appeared to be sand blasting the bridge.
"As I got closer I realised it was smoke and when I stopped and got out of the car it started to fire up," she said.
"I was just a few seconds too late, fortunately, otherwise I would have been caught right in the middle of it all."
Hastings Fire Chief Bruno Manning said no drivers or passengers were trapped but some were treated for minor injuries.