14 Feb 2016

Man burned in digger fire just happy he's alive

6:19 pm on 14 February 2016

A man seriously burned when his digger caught fire in Wellington says he is lucky to be alive.

Former mayoral candidate and founder of the Carlucciland sculpture park and mini-golf course, Carl Gifford, was seriously injured when one of the digger's hydraulic hoses ruptured, igniting the blaze.

Helicopters with monsoon buckets and dozens of firefighters spent hours trying to control the flames on a forestry block above the golf course on Thursday.

Mr Gifford was clearing a fire break when the digger burst into flame.

"It was just like a huge fire ball which erupted from the machine. It was sort of like a flame thrower really."

He knew he was hurt because he could feel his skin on his arm burning.

"When that happens you know your face is going to be as bad as your arm and I just ran for it."

He is still in hospital with second and third degree burns.