Blown to bits - but camper van owner survives

Camper van which burnt out on Lime Kiln Lane at Stainton following a gas explosion
Camper van which burnt out on Lime Kiln Lane at Stainton following a gas explosion
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How could anyone survive the blast that wrecked this van?

That was the question being asked by emergency teams after a man with burns emerged from an explosion which tore off the roof and sides of his camper van.

The Ford Transit blew up on a quiet country lane between Doncaster and Rotherham on Wednesday night, in what is said to be an accident.

A 41-year-old man is believed to have been living in the van, which was parked up in a small lay-by on Lime Kiln Lane, the road from Stainton to Tickhill.

A member of the public driving past at around 10.15pm raised the alarm. Fire crews from Edlington and Maltby stations took more than an hour to extinguish the flames while paramedics dealt with the casualty, who has not been named. He was initially taken to the Rotherham District General Hospital for emergency treatment but his injuries were serious enough for him to be transferred to the specialist burns unit at the Northern General in Sheffield.

He has burns covering 30 per cent of his body, of which 10 per cent are said to be superficial and 20 per cent first degree burns, but they are not being treated as life-threatening.

The explosion is believed to have been caused when a leaking gas cylinder inside the van was accidentally ignited after the owner parked up for the night.

A spokesman for Doncaster police said the man had been asleep in the van and he woke after it had got dark.

It is thought he flicked a lighter so he could see what he was doing and the spark caused the cooking gas canister in the van to explode.

Some body panels were blasted across the road and into the nearby field, while the roof of the van was peeled back in two sections to the front and rear of the vehicle by the force of the blast.

Emergency teams were concerned that another canister might also explode, so Lime Kiln Lane was closed to traffic from the junction with Tickhill Road to School Lane in Stainton for about an hour.

Residents of Stainton, which is more than half a mile away from the lay-by, said they were unaware of the van having been parked on the lane before Wednesday night.

Staff at The Three Tuns pub had not heard the explosion and did not know anything about the van dweller.

The wrecked van was yesterday taken away by Doncaster Council staff as the police continued their investigation into the incident, which they said was not suspicious.