Tourist loses all after fire engulfs van

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A French tourist lost everything after her van caught fire as the result of a two-vehicle crash near Omarama on Tuesday.

Emergency services were called to the fiery crash in State Highway 8 between Lake Ohau Rd and Mcaughtries Rd about 2.35pm.

Constable Nayland Smith, of Omarama, said the sole occupant of the van, a 23-year-old woman, was heading south before she slowed and attempted to turn into Lake Ohau Rd.

As the driver of a rental car travelling behind her tried to pass the van, the car struck the van before the latter caught fire.

The fire quickly spread into a nearby paddock.

The van was gutted, and the woman was left with only the clothes she was wearing and a cellphone, Const Smith said.

“The 23-year-old has lost everything. All of her worldly possessions were in that van. She only has her phone. Fortunately she had some friends at Lake Ohau, so they have given her a hand.”

The small blaze was was quickly brought under control by firefighters from Omarama and Twizel.

St John spokesman Gerard Campbell said three people were treated for minor injuries at the scene, but did not require hospital treatment.

The highway was closed until about 3.20pm while fire crews cleared debris from the scene.

Inquiries were continuing to establish the cause of the crash and who was at fault.

POLICE BRIEFS

★ Oamaru police were called to the Ministry of Social Development office in Coquet St about 10.30am on Tuesday after it was briefly placed into lockdown. Sergeant Blair Corlet, of Oamaru, confirmed police attended the incident but referred comment to the ministry. Ministry regional director Sue Rissman said the office was reopened a short time later. She declined to comment on the nature of the incident, or if any threat was made.

★ A man was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital with serious injuries after he was dragged by a train at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant on Tuesday. Senior Constable Ross Lory, of Oamaru said the man, confirmed by the company to be an employee at the Works Rd plant north of Oamaru, was clipped by a “shunting train” and was dragged a short distance. Alliance Group had launched an internal inquiry into the incident and were liaising with WorkSafe.