UK & World News
Car Fire In Lion Enclosure: Family's Terror
A woman has told Sky News of the terrifying dilemma she faced when her car caught fire in the middle of the lion enclosure at a safari park.
But despite the frightening experience and ensuing rescue of herself and two children, Helen Clements from Gloucestershire said it would not put her off going back to see the big cats.
The drama unfolded at Longleat, Wiltshire, which was packed with visitors enjoying the long Easter weekend at the time.
Ms Clements told Sky News what at first appeared to be steam coming from her car turned into smoke, and she alerted park rangers by sounding the horn.
They were rescued as flames began to engulf the car.
Fortunately, the lions kept their distance and were then cleared from the area to allow firefighters in to put out the blaze.
Ms Clements said: "We went into the lion enclosure and it was very busy so were stop start, stop start, and the car just overheated and what we thought was just steam coming out of it then turned to smoke.
"So we though OK I think we had better alert somebody.
"So we went onto the horn.
"Then the flames came out of the car, and were obviously coming into the car.
"We then thought we had better get out the car, but obviously the rangers were saying get back in the car.
"Obviously for safety reasons.
"It was very difficult to know what to do. Get in the car or get out the car.
"It was a little bit frightening, and obviously the children were frightened at the time."
She added: "Luckily, because it was so busy and we were on the outside of the enclosure we couldn't see the lions."
After sounding the horn, she said help arrived within 30 seconds.
Ms Clements added: "I would like to go back and see the lions.
"It wouldn't put me off from going back.
"You can look back on it now and thank goodness we are all safe, but why did it have to be in the lion enclosure of all places."
George Lear, 16, from Bristol, was just a few cars away when the blaze broke out.
Mr Lear said the lions were about 150 metres away from the car at the time.
"They kept their distance but didn't take their eyes off the fire and smoke," he said.
Another eyewitness Wayne Skinner, who captured footage of the car blaze, told Sky News: "We felt worried for the family, with the car on fire and lions in the vicinity."
A Longleat Safari Park spokesman said there were no injuries to people or animals.