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Manawatu fire service assistant area commander Rodger Calder said the fire occurred in a Toyota Previa people-mover just after midday.
"On arrival there we found a passer-by had rescued two children out of the vehicle and we called the ambulance and the children, along with their mother have been transported to Palmerston North Hospital.
"One was Status 4 and one was Status 3 - one of them has suffered some burns and I would imagine the other one was smoke inhalation.
"We put the fire out and are currently awaiting a fire investigator to come and determine the cause."
The children were aged three months and three-years-old, Mr Calder said. A seven-year-old child was also present but uninjured by the blaze.
Initial indications suggested the children may have been left in the can while their mother was in the supermarket, Mr Calder said.
- Brendan Manning of APNZ