‘Terrifying’ burger van explosion at Showground

Picture by Steve Dawe/Real Time Imaging. (S)
Picture by Steve Dawe/Real Time Imaging. (S)

Terrified guests fled a blaze at the Great Yorkshire Showground after a burger van exploded, shooting out jets of fire “like a flamethrower”.Nine people were injured in the incident on Monday, with witnesses describing how the flames engulfed people queueing for refreshments at the National Pony Society’s summer show.

Stephen Middleton, of Brunswick Drive, who suffered burns to his face and hair, told the Advertiser: “I was with my seven-year-old daughter, Honey, and we were second in line at the burger van.

“Two lads were handling orders and then there was a terrific bang and a jet of flame shot out like a flamethrower, engulfing those directly in front of the van.

“We all dropped to the ground.

“My daughter’s hair was on fire. I put it out, but she also burnt her hand. I have a pretty badly burned face and I have now lost what remaining hair I had.

“After the bang, the flames were shooting out – it was absolutely terrifying.”

He added that his wife had seen the incident and said the flames had shot out up to 15ft.

Kate Wobschall was walking near to where the vans were parked, and said around 20 people had been milling around the area, getting coffees and looking at a photo exhibition, when the incident took place.

“There was a massive explosion,” she said. “I turned around and there were flames shooting out of the middle van, and people screaming and running away,” she said. “Then somebody shouted: ‘It’s the gas that’s gone up.’ I told my dad to stay with my daughter, who’s five, and then another one went up, a second explosion.

“People were coming past us with burns to the hands and head, making their way to the toilets.

“If people were in the van, I’m amazed that they got out alive. You can’t imagine what it would have been like in there.”

Following the incident, which took place at around 11.30am on Monday, five people were taken to hospital suffering from burns and scalds, including the two men in the van.

Their injuries were described as “minor” by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which sent three vehicles to the scene, treating a further four people.

Two 19kg propane cylinders outside the van were not damaged by the fire, and fire fighters worked to cool them down.

A spokesman for the fire service said on Monday that it would hold an investigation into the cause of the fire.

Heather Parry, MD of the Yorkshire Event Centre, where the show took place, said: “Our first thoughts are with those who were hurt and their families. The organisers of the National Pony Show are obviously deeply upset and we are supporting them in the investigations.”