A MOBILE fish-and-chip van which has visited North Yorkshire villages for 32 years has been destroyed in an explosion.

The fire wrecked the van while it was on its scheduled stop in Hutton Rudby last weekend.

But owner Terry Garner – who tried in vain to put out the flames as his partner Jean Stubbs jumped out of the window – hopes to have a replacement and be back on the road within weeks.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by a build-up of fat in an extractor fan, with fire crews unable to prevent the vehicle being destroyed.

Mr Garner, who had converted the van himself, said: “It was a bit of a shock – I tried to put it out, but it had taken hold so I just got out as fast as possible.

“We stood and watched it burn, and it was awful – everything was flashing in front of me. I love my job and it is my life as well as my livelihood.

“We know our customers so well that they all give us Christmas cards, and Jean knows all the pensioners by heart and even delivers to their doors if they can’t get out of the van.”

The van’s delivery stops include Shipton-by-Beningbrough, Tollerton, Linton-on-Ouse, Newton-on-Ouse and Flawith, near Helperby.

Mr Garner said he was due to look at a new van yesterday, and said: “I won’t know what to do with myself until we get back up and running.”