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Onlookers were helpless to stop a raging ball of fire which started in a car in the Springvale Stadium carpark on Saturday during the A&P Show.
Stall holder Christopher Cape first noticed a wisp of smoke behind a car just before 12.30pm, when he spotted two men trying to see in the windows.
The men, unable to see if there was anybody inside the smoke-logged car, got a hammer to smash some windows, Mr Cape said.
Within minutes, the car was fully ablaze and the car beside it was catching fire too.
"It all happened within two minutes ... everybody was standing around sort of stunned, watching," he said. "The thing became a raging ball of fire."
By the time the fire brigade arrived, about five minutes after Mr Cape first noticed the smoke, an adjacent car was also half covered in flames.
"If the fire brigade hadn't arrived at this point, I was expecting to see the two or three cars that were left of this go up in smoke. There was no way of stopping this. We had two fire extinguishers."
Mr Cape said members of the public were gawping at the spectacle.
Wanganui Fire Senior Station Officer Jemal Weston said the cause of the fire was still under investigation, but it looked to have started in the dashboard area of the first car.
He said there was a possibility there could have been an electrical fault. The fire started not long after the car's occupants arrived at the A&P Show, he said.
By Melissa Wishart of the Wanganui Chronicle