Witnesses to a car explosion that killed a man in a quiet Cairns cul-de-sac have described the incident as “horrific”, as they watched neighbours try to rescue the man from the burning ute.
A 22-year-old man died after the car exploded in Edmonton, in the outer suburbs of Cairns, about 3pm on Tuesday.
Police said the man was working for a lawn-mowing business when a loud bang reverberated through the neighbourhood.
“A resident there reportedly heard a bang and looked out and saw the vehicle engulfed in flames,” Senior Constable Russell Parker said.
“There was a young man who had been seated inside the vehicle.”
His 46-year-old colleague was alerted to the explosion while he was working out the back of the house.
He ran to the front footpath to find the ute and trailer completely engulfed in flames.
“Unfortunately they weren’t able to remove the young man from the vehicle,” Senior Constable Parker said.
“The flames were just too intense.”
Paramedics treated the man for critical injuries but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
‘It went off like a bomb’
Brenda (surname withheld) lives next door and said she was sitting on the lounge when she heard two consecutive pops.
“It went off like a bomb. I thought ‘what was that noise?’,” she said.
Brenda said she walked to the door and saw the vehicle had erupted into flames several metres high before she raced to call triple-zero.
“I thought ‘oh my God, that ute is on fire’,” she said.
“I came back and said ‘there’s somebody in there’.”
Her friend Joseph Elarde said he initially attempted to rescue the vehicle’s occupant.
“I ran out and the ute, which was parked over there, was in a ball of flames.
“I seen [sic] two legs hanging out and I thought ‘shit, there’s someone in there’.
“But I couldn’t get near him. It was just too hot.”
He said neighbours also began filing into the street, keen to help but unable to do more than watch on before emergency services eventually extinguished the blaze.
“Everyone was just horrified,” he said.
“It’s just something you didn’t think would happen, especially here in this little, quiet area.”
Another neighbour, Bruce said “it sounded like a bomb going off”.
Workplace Health and Safety is investigating.