Bay View BP fire: Woman says stranger seeking ride placed bucket of fuel on passenger’s lap

A woman in a car linked to a Napier service station inferno says the fire started after a stranger trying to hitch a ride had placed a bucket of fuel on the lap of another passenger.

Police say it is “nothing short of a miracle” that the subsequent fire at the Bay View BP, about nine kilometres north of Napier, on Friday night did not injure or kill someone.

Nearby residents were evacuated during the fire which caused significant damage to the forecourt of the BP.

A passenger, from Napier, has taken to Facebook to say she was travelling in the car linked to the fire. Hawke’s Bay Today has not named her after she received further online abuse, after sharing her story online.

The open, bucket of fuel came from a stranger who had been trying to hitch a lift with her friends.

She has shared her version of the story in response to negative social media comments, querying what the three people in the car were doing at the time of the fire.

The woman responded to the comments, saying she and her friends did not know the “random man” they encountered on Friday.

“[He had] nothing to do with us,” the woman said.

The woman explained she had left the parked vehicle on Friday night and was headed to the service station’s toilets when she noticed a man”waving cash” and asking for a ride while pointing at his petrol.

“I told him ‘We’re on those two cars over there, go ask them’.”

The man approached one car, and the occupants said no.

He then approached the second car, got into the rear seat and placed the bucket of fuel in her friend’s lap – “Then boom,” the woman said.

Earlier, Eastern District criminal investigations manager Detective Inspector Rob Jones had said: “The entire service station forecourt was alight within minutes and it is nothing short of a miracle that nobody was injured or killed.”

Jones has confirmed police have spoken with the three people in the car at the time of ignition, as well as other witnesses.

The investigation was still ongoing and police were yet to determine if charges would be laid against the man, he said.

He thanked those who had provided footage or links to footage in support of the ongoing investigation.

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