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'The fire just came from underneath me' - van inferno man tells of escape from vehicle

PUBLISHED: 09:59 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 10:13 05 June 2019

The van on fire on the A47 in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Cally Nunn

The van on fire on the A47 in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Cally Nunn

Archant

A man who escaped a burning van after it was engulfed in flames says he is "lucky to be alive."

The van on fire on the A47 in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Laura Marie Ingram.The van on fire on the A47 in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Laura Marie Ingram.

Sam Whiting has described it as a "terrible" experience and said he was wary of getting behind the wheel again.

The 25-year-old was driving towards Lowestoft when he slowed at the Gapton Hall roundabout on the A47 at around 10.30am on Wednesday, May 29.

He said: "I was coming down the road from Yarmouth back to Lowestoft and I slowed down.

"I looked right to see if anything was coming and the fire just came from underneath me.

Emergency services on the A47 in Great Yarmouth where a van caught fire. Picture: Laura Marie Ingram.Emergency services on the A47 in Great Yarmouth where a van caught fire. Picture: Laura Marie Ingram.

"It was terrible to be honest.

"The other lad had time to get out, I had to get out the other side.

"My body was in panic mode thinking 'I need to get out of here as fast as I can.'

"It would worry me to jump back in a van."

The A47 southbound was closed for more than two hours following the incident with photos and video being widely shared on social media.

Many expressed concern for the driver involved in the blaze, the scale of which shocked witnesses.

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Mr Whiting was taken to James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston where he was found to have suffered second degree burns on 10pc of his body.

At the moment he is resting and hopes to be back at work soon.

Seeing the footage he said: "It was quite scary to think it was me in that van.

"To look at my face you would not know I had any kind of accident at all because it has all healed up really nicely.

"It is just my neck and arms."

People at the scene said they feared for their own lives and that of the van driver who looked "badly burnt."

Shocked witnesses described the "frightening" moment the blaze ripped through the van.

Matt Rusling, 45, from Kettering, was in his van just metres away from the fire.

"It was frightening. I saw smoke and then the van just went up in flames," he said.

"I was right near to the front so I couldn't reverse.

"I started to panic, jumped out of my van and hid behind it.

Two fire crews from Great Yarmouth and Gorleston used main and hose-reel jets to extinguish the flames.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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