Couple recalls horror moment their car and caravan caught fire

Published: September 8, 2023

A caravanning couple who had a near-death experience when their car engine exploded and their entire rig went up in flames have spoken of their ordeal.

The Townsville Bulletin reports that retirees, Brian and Sherralyn Osborne, were driving along the Capricorn Highway travelling from Emerald to Jericho on August 18 when they heard a ‘big bang’ from under the car’s bonnet.

They told the newspaper that they managed to jump out just minutes before a raging fire engulfed the vehicle.

“The smoke just started billowing in the car,” Mr Osborne said. “The brakes weren’t working so I pulled the handbrake as the flames were getting higher and higher … Sherralyn already had her door open and jumped out, but I was locked in and couldn’t get out, so I climbed over the console and followed her.”

The pair got a fire extinguisher and tried to extinguish the flames, but it just flared up again with the wind.

“Sherralyn raced into the caravan to get her jewellery box, and I yelled out for her to get out,” Mr Osborne told the Bulletin. “The whole car was alight by then, only a few minutes later, the gas bottle exploded, and the whole van was up in flames.”

The Townsville Bulletin reports that the couple eventually had to get on a bus back to Rockhampton, and then took a flight home to Townsville.

The paper said it was a ‘nightmare’ end to a trip that the couple were taking after Sherralyn’s close call with signet cell carcinoma, a rare type of cancer, that doctors found in two parts of her nose and which had to be surgically removed.

While the couple were insured, Mr Osborne told the Bulletin they weren’t covered for all the items they lost inside the caravan, like the fridge, generator, solar panels, chairs and food.

The exact cause of the fire is unknown.

  • Comment below.


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No doubt a shocking and traumatic ordeal for Brian and Sherralyn. Just shows you can have the fire extinguisher on hand and still have to make calculated, life saving decisions in such instances. I refer to Sherralyn’s attempt to secure her jewellery from the van and abandoning this at Brian’s request.

Last edited 5 months ago by Tim Halls

Strange insurance not to cover standard factory items like a fridge

I’d say he meant a portable fridge

Given the manufacturers trend to electrify everything, including door locks on some brands, it might be an idea to keep one of those pointy hammer things handy to break a window to escape since you can no longer wind them down.

And if pulled up by the Police try explaining why you are carrying a “deadly weapon” in the car!

Now that was an i’ll considered response !

Under your definition Les then I guess everything could be described as a deadly weapon. The item referred to is quite specific, a small plastic hammer that usually includes a seat belt cutter. It may give you a nasty injury, but I think you would have to try very hard kill someone with one. Safety experts do recommend these are carried. Having said tat, my vehicle has laminated side glass, so would be difficult to break and remove.

Be assured they are quite different to a hammer, and no, they aren’t illegal

Massive engine failure followed immediately by fire. Suggests the engine through a conrod through the block , spraying hot oil all over a hot exhaust , resulting in an instantaneous fire. Not a lot of hope in putting that out with your average extinguisher. Brakes would have lost vacuum assist soon
as the motor stopped, rendering a rock hard pedal with little effect. Electrics would also have dropped out also rendering , no c/van brakes. Very lucky couple. Could have been a lot worse.
You can always replace material items. Glad they are o.k. Dave.

spot on Dave,
Very lucky people.Thing they should buy lotto this week?

Don’t think so, used up all their luck on this event!

Most caravan insurance policies only include $2,000 for contents. When you consider all of things you carry, this is vastly inadequate. That is why we have increase ours considerably, it does not cost a lot more.


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