A teenage girl couldn't believe her eyes when the car she was driving burst into flames seconds after she hopped out of it.

Skyla Douglas had been driving with friends for lunch in Mt Maunganui yesterday when they noticed something was not right.

"I was just pulling into the park with my friends when we saw smoke and we could smell it. At first we thought it overheated and wouldn't be too bad but as we were hopping out of the car we realised there was a lot of smoke."

The engine of the blue Peugeot 206 was on fire.

Advertisement

Douglas said a man driving past alerted them to sparks coming from the bonnet.

"There were a lot of people panicking on the streets but me and my friends were pretty calm."

One of the group called 111 while two others moved people away from the car and Douglas popped the bonnet.

"It was pretty crazy. It progressed to flames pretty quick and had smoke filling the whole street," she said.

The damage left behind after a car's engine caught fire in Mount Maunganui. Photo/Skylar Douglas
The damage left behind after a car's engine caught fire in Mount Maunganui. Photo/Skylar Douglas

The group took refuge from the smoke in a shoe shop as firefighters fought the fire.

"[They] were really helpful and understanding. They said it appeared to be an electrical fire and the whole engine was burned."

Douglas said the car was taken to the wreckers as it had been written off "but we have insurance so it's okay".

Mt Maunganui station officer Steve Wright said Douglas and her friends did the right thing by getting away from the vehicle and calling 111.

Advertisement

"We're pretty confident it was an electrical malfunction.

"There's a lot of energy that runs through the wires and cables through a car. With a malfunction that energy would have kept building up until it reached ignition."

Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire before Douglas' father arrived to pick her up.