Woman saved from car inferno

Two four-wheel-drives collided head on and sparked a fire just north of Gympie.
Two four-wheel-drives collided head on and sparked a fire just north of Gympie. Renee Pilcher

BYSTANDERS ignored their own safety yesterday when a car burst into flames after a head-on collision on the Bruce Hwy at Chatsworth, trapping a seriously injured Gympie woman in the front seat.

A man from another badly damaged car and the Gympie woman, aged about 40, were taken to Nambour General Hospital.

The woman had two broken legs and suspected internal and spinal injuries. Three other people were taken to Gympie Hospital.

But it was the bravery of four strangers that saved the woman from being burnt alive just after the midday collision.

Her new Toyota LandCruiser was forced off the highway and down a 3m embankment into a tinder dry gully in the impact, the front of the car bursting into flames.

Errol Wright, on his way home to Gladstone from a weekend in Brisbane, and Roger Delafontaine, also heading to Gladstone on his way to the Atherton Tablelands, were in the first vehicles to reach the scene.

Several people were in a crumpled Nissan Patrol up on the highway, and still others were in an overturned sedan that had gone off the road on the other side of the highway about 75m away.

Mr Wright and Mr Delafontaine scrambled down the bank as the LandCruiser caught fire. They and another man ripped off the driver's door with their bare hands and pulled the woman to safety.

A fourth man ran down the highway grabbing as many fire extinguishers as he could from cars that had stopped.

The car blaze ignited a paddock burning about half a hectare of land.

Several fight units arrived and took about an hour to extinguish the fire.

Gympie police said the crash occurred when a vehicle heading north veered on to the wrong wide of the highway, clipped a south-bound car which ran off the highway. It then hit a second south-bound car head-on.

Topics:  bruce hwy gympie sunshine coast

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