PICTURED: The moment of the accident. (Image courtesy ABC TV Alice Springs). BOTTOM OF REPORT: A competitor making a slow lap of the burnout pad after the blaze, waving goodbye to the crowd, as the NATS winds up on a disastrous note. The black marks on the fence in the centre of the photo show where the accident occurred.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
An eyewitness to the fire at the Red Centre NATS yesterday afternoon, injuring 11 people, four of them seriously, praised the immediate help members of the crowd gave to the victims.
Watching the drama unfold from the opposite side the witness says people with blankets, sheets and water bottles immediately came to the aid of the injured, including one – “I think it was man” – who was almost completely covered in flames.
The observer says the incident happened in just a few seconds, with fuel apparently spraying from the back of a car competing in the burnout event.
The clearing of the thick plume of smoke and rubber particles revealed a scene of injured people on the ground, attended to by their mates, and horrified spectators, says the eyewitness.
A hospital spokesperson says 11 people were admitted to the emergency department of the Alice Springs hospital.
Four were flown to the Royal Adelaide hospital overnight, two by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and two by Medstar.
Five remain in the local hospital with “minor burns to limbs” and two have been released.
The final of the burnout competition was canceled because there remained not enough ambulance capacity to cover the event, according to a Red Centre NATS official.
This is from Jay Marafioti’s Facebook post yesterday:
So it’s been a bit of a shit situation this afternoon but we’re all doing good and everyone is still cracking jokes with eachother. Just like to say that in no way do we blame the driver of the car for anything that’s happened. Accidents happen and sometimes they’re unavoidable but that’s just a part of life. Unfortunately some people’s burns were a bit worse than others and they’re being flown out but I hope everyone recovers quickly this definitely hasn’t detered my love for skids but I do think I’ll be standing a bit further back from the fence from now on.