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Fire almost gutted my van!

  • Howard Langley
    Howard Langley on

    On a trip to Wilderness a few months ago, I came very close to losing my self-built Ducato camper which had been featured in the June 2014 edition of Caravan and Outdoor Life Magazine.

    After an early morning outing, a leisurely breakfast in our chalet was disturbed by a loud beeping which I initially thought was the reversing warning of staff’s cleaning cart. However, when the noise persisted, I went outside to check, and realised that it was coming from inside our camper.

    You can imagine my horror when I opened the van’s sliding door and was engulfed in a billowing cloud of acrid black smoke! The side of the microwave cupboard was alight, red and yellow flames were licking against the van’s ceiling and the loud beeping was the smoke alarm doing its job.

    Fortunately, I had a fire extinguisher mounted next to the sliding door, which I grabbed and quickly extinguished the flames.


    A few days earlier, I had installed a DVD Viewer/ player on the side of the microwave cupboard. I was rather proud of this installation, as the unit could be swivelled and angled to accommodate any viewing angle, and that morning had passed (or so I thought) a gruelling test over very corrugated roads. But, as it turned out, an electrical short in the unit had caused it to catch alight… despite its being protected by a 15amp fuse.

    Today, there is little evidence left of how close my precious van came to be nothing more than a burnt out hulk…a reality prevented only by a huge dose of luck, fire-resistant carpeting, a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher. A serious lesson for us all!

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