Car in Lions Enclosure Catches Fire, Forcing Family To Flee on Foot

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 12:06 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A U.K. woman and her two sons nearly became dinner for a pack a lions last week when the family's car caught fire inside a safari park's large cat enclosure.

At first, Helen Clements noticed the hood of her van steaming but, soon enough, thick, black smoke started pouring out of the vehicle as it traveled through the lion enclosure at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, England, Friday.

"Then the flames came out of the car, and were obviously coming into the car," Clements told ABC News. "We then thought we had better get out the car."

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Lions roam freely about their enclosure at Longleat, so Clements frantically sounded her car's horn to try and get the attention of the park rangers before the flames fully engulfed her car.

"They were shouting at us get back in the car, do not get out the car and it’s a situation — what do you do?" she said.

Luckily, the park rangers quickly evacuated Clements and her sons into one of their vehicles and transported them to safety.

"[There's] always a ranger with their eye on the animals and a ranger there to assist the family," Longleat Safari Park marketing director Alex Lloyd said in a statement. "That training kicked into action and all worked well, so the first ranger stayed close by the lions whilst the second ranger was able to relatively freely get the family out of the vehicle."

Despite the harrowing ordeal, Clements said she would like to go back to the safari some day.

"I would like to go back and see the lions," she told Sky News
. "It wouldn't put me off from going back. It was a little bit frightening, and obviously the children were frightened at the time. 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? . . . Why couldn’t it be in the flamingos or the camels?"

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