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WALES: Ambulance blaze while on 999 call.

Byline: By GARETH BICKNELL

AN investigation was under way last night after an ambulance on a 999 call burst into flames.

Gas and air bottles exploded when the ambulance caught fire on the A483 between Welshpool and Oswestry at around 8.30am yesterday.

A male and female paramedic were on board at the time, but both managed to escape unharmed.

The ambulance, including all the equipment, was destroyed.

The crew were on their way to a call in Llanfechain, near Llanfyllin.

Paramedics from Shropshire took over the emergency as the drama unfolded.

Firefighters tackled the blaze for nearly two hours while police closed the road to protect other motorists from danger.

The Welsh Ambulance Service is now carrying out an investigation into the fire, the cause of which is as yet unknown.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Ambulance Trust said: "The ambulance was out on a call just after 8.30am. It was on its way to Llanfechain when we had another call at 8.44am to say that the ambulance had caught fire.

"The ambulance was gutted. All the equipment in the ambulance was destroyed, along with any personal belongings of the crew.

"There was one male and one female on board the ambulance at the time. Both got out and were unharmed.

"The original call was taken on by a Shropshire ambulance, and there were no problems in dealing with that incident.

"We are not aware of any external factors that may have caused the fire, but we are investigating."

She added: "It is fortunate the crew got out of the ambulance in time and were safe."

A spokesman for Mid and West Wales fire service said the ambulance was "well ablaze" when two crews from Welshpool attended.

He said the fire service received the call at 8.40am and tackled the blaze until two hours later, when they were able to leave the scene.

The spokesman confirmed oxygen cylinders had exploded, and said firefighters had to wait for other bottles to explode before attempting to put out the fire.

He said the cause was still being investigated.

Eight bottles of oxygen and Entonox were thought to be on the ambulance.

gareth.bicknell@dailypost.co.uk
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 29, 2006
Words:368
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