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Lyme Regis couple lucky to be alive after motor home inferno
A COUPLE are lucky to be alive after their motor home burst into flames in the early hours on a trip from Lyme to a game fair.
Farmer Hugh Massy-Birch sprinted from the vehicle with seconds to spare as it was engulfed by a fireball when an engine fire spread to gas canisters.
Mr Massy-Birch and his wife Mary, who run Country Covers from their farm at Trinity Hill, were driving to Cambridgeshire when the blaze broke out.
Son Oliver, 19, was called from the family home near Lyme to help them when the fire started just after 11pm on Thursday, August 23 near Yeovil.
He told of their ordeal but also praised firefighters and emergency services for their help.
Oliver said his parents pulled over to the side of the road after noticing a light and smoke coming from the vehicle. He added: “My mum screamed and jumped out. My dad grabbed a fire extinguisher but then the engine blew up and the whole thing caught light.
“There were gas cylinders on board.
“My dad was sprinting as it was blowing up. He was literally seconds away from being caught in it.
“They are lucky to be alive.”
The eight-metre long motor home – worth £40,000 new – was destroyed as well as about £40,000 worth of stock.
Their business sells shooting, fishing and hunting clothing for the game industry.
Oliver said that the business is still going despite the fire and a tough year and that his father even headed up to the show the next day.
He said his parents were upset by the fire and lost stock but were happy to get out alive.
Oliver praised firefighters and police for their quick response as well as paramedics who helped his mother as she was shaken up by the incident.
“They were on the scene really quickly.
“They did a cracking job and my parents really appreciated it.
“We can’t thank them enough for their help.”
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said that two crews and a water carrier from Yeovil attended the blaze at 11.05pm on the A3033 on August 23.
A spokesman said that they had multiple calls and their crews used jets to fight the flames and cool the gas cylinders as well as thermal imaging cameras.
A trailer being towed by the motor home was slightly damage by heat and smoke.
Incident commander Marc House, who is a station manager with Devon and Somerset Fire Service, agreed the couple were lucky to get out without more serious consequences.
He said: “It was a rapidly developing fire.
“They did exactly the right thing.
“When the fire took hold they moved the vehicle to the right place and clearly considered the safety of others.”
He also praised Mr and Mrs Massy-Birch for their co-operation on the evening as well as colleagues in other emergency services who attended.
Mr House took the decision to close the road in both directions with police amid concerns about gas cylinders on board.
He said that explosions had been reported but it was not clear whether it involved gas cylinders at that point so the road was closed in the interest of public safety.