'It happened in seconds': Fire destroys campervan in carpark
A COUPLE lost just about everything they own when their campervan was destroyed in a fire at a carpark in Cannonvale on Sunday afternoon.
Trish and Keiran Manton parked their van in the staff carpark at the back of Whitsunday Plaza while they went inside to sell toys at their pop-up stall in the shopping centre.
When Mr Manton went back the van about 1.40pm to have a sit down, he noticed an electrical smell.
However he said he didn't take too much notice of it because there were "industrial smells" in that area.
In the time in took him to take off his cardigan and step into the back of the van, smoke had started to pour into the vehicle.
"I looked around and smoke was billowing out of the console," the Bribie Island resident said.
"It happened in seconds.
"Within five minutes it (the van) was gone."
Mr Manton rushed back inside the shopping centre to get his wife to ring the fire brigade.
"By the time we went back out, it was ablaze," Mrs Manton said.
Quick thinking nearby employees used fire hose reels and extinguishers to put out the blaze while the fire brigade was on its way.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services auxiliary captain Brodyn Friend praised the quick actions of the people nearby.
"They were straight onto it and that's the reason it didn't get any bigger than it was," he said.
"When we got there, there were not a whole lot of flames.
"We just had to dampen down hotspots."
As for the Manton's they not only lost their Nissan Civilian van which they had fitted out as a campervan, they also lost most of their belongings.
The couple was living in the van as they toured around Queensland for eight weeks with their wares.
They were only three weeks into the trip.
Their other home is their boat, moored at Bribie Island, so they had most of their belongings with them.
"We are gutted," Mrs Manton said.
"Every little thing has gone.
"Even our passports.
"We just ended up in what we stood in.
"All my clothes melted. And the lights."
Fortunately the couple had unhooked the trailer with their toy stock and it was in a different place and saved from the fire.
However, now they do not have a way to tow it and think they may have to buy a four-wheel drive just so they can continue on with the tour.
Only the day after the fire, today both Mr and Mrs Manton were trying to look at the bright side.
"It could have been worse. We could have been in it and we couldn't get out," Mrs Manton said.
"Thank God it wasn't at night and we were asleep," Mr Manton said.
The pair are not sure where to from here, but plans to continue their stall in Cannonvale until Wednesday which is how long they had booked the area for.
"What are we going to do, sit around and mope?," Mrs Manton said.
"I'd rather be doing something."
The Whitsundays community has rallied around the couple in the aftermath of the fire.
Big W gave them both clothes to wear, a man put them up in a hotel last night, people have offered them a place to stay, others have washed the clothes they were wearing.
Among those to offer them somewhere to stay was the owner of the vehicle parked next to theirs in the carpark, which was also damaged a bit in the fire.
"Everybody's has been so lovely," Mrs Manton said.
"People have just been amazing. That's what's got us more than anything."
It is not known how they fire started, but it is believed to have been an electrical fault.
Mr Friend said QFES confirmed it started inside the van in the front section.