Car fire at petrol station quickly brought under control

Patrolling police officers and a quick-thinking teenager helped to avoid a potential disaster on Monday when they spotted a car on fire at a petrol station.

Members of the Alexandra-based Otago Rural drink-drive team had been conducting roadside checks on motorists between Oamaru and Otematata during Labour Weekend, and officers were on hand when a Mini caught fire at an Omarama petrol station about 6pm.

Omarama Challenge service station forecourt attendant Cuillin MacKay (19) said she was working at the time of the incident, but police were on the scene "in 30 seconds".

Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Fire Officer Howard Williams said the fire was over quickly, but added there had been "the potential" for the incident to have been much worse.

"It was just a wee Mini on fire in the engine bay. They put it out, and it was all over."

The fire was caused by fuel leaking on to the exhaust manifold.

Police kept a high profile in the Waitaki Lakes area over the long weekend to ensure there was no repeat of the alcohol-fuelled trouble seen in 2009.

Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy, of Oamaru, said barring the fire it had been a relatively trouble-free weekend.

The rural drink-drive team stopped 2820 vehicles between Oamaru and Otematata, and noted 90 offences, and two instances of drink-driving. A 14-year-old boy had been forbidden to drive after he was stopped driving through the township on Friday night, Snr Sgt McCoy said.

"It appears that his father thought it would be a good idea to give a driving lesson, but at 14, you're not allowed to drive, so, not such a good idea."

The boy's father, who was a passenger in the car, was issued with an infringement notice.

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz