• Family day out turns into disaster for one LV= customer
  • Mum and 2 children forced to evacuate car into dangerous lion enclosure
  • Although the car was in flames, no family or animals were harmed in the blaze

It started as a typical family outing on Good Friday to Longleat Safari Park. However the day quickly turned to drama as the family car burst into flames whilst driving through the lion enclosure, and they were forced to evacuate and wait for help surrounded by lions.

Driving through any wild animal enclosure presents a certain degree of risk - ranging from the animals sinking their teeth in to your car’s tyres to monkeys ripping off aerials, windscreen wipers and trim. It’s also not unheard that rhinos have rammed vehicles. Big cats as a rule are more inclined to watch the cars from afar, though they may come up close to have a look in. Provided doors and windows are secured, there’s not usually an issue

However, this was not the case for Helen Clements and her two children Charlie (12) and George (9) last Easter. The LV= policy holder (who is insured through LV=’s sister company ABC) initially thought that the car had simply overheated, but it then became clear that the smoke was coming from under the bonnet.

“And it was getting thicker and thicker and obviously coming into us, and then we saw the flames," she told BBC News.

Thankfully the lions kept their distance (around 100 yards) as the drama unfolded. Once the rangers were alerted to the fire the enclosure was evacuated and the lions cleared away. Luckily the car fire was soon contained and none of the passengers or lions were harmed.

Longleat was the setting of the BBC Animal Park TV series and boasts being the first ‘stately home with wild animals park’ of its kind in the world. Rangers responded to the disaster quickly and the family praised them for their swift actions.

Helen and her family are now able to look back on the matter and laugh. Our friendly claims team have also given them a little bonus to pay for another (hopefully more sedate?) family day out. We’re guessing it’s more likely to be a family theme park than swimming with sharks?!?