Stephen Gass was headed for Otto’s for a sandwich and almost got there. As he turned into Clover Lawn, his father’s 1999 Toyota Camry stopped dead and smoke began seeping out from under the hood around 2:30 p.m. on May 12. University of Virginia Community Credit Union branch manager Alan Shenk came out to help and lifted the hood. That caused the fire to roar to life and Shenk immediately dropped the lid.
The fire burned for about 15 minutes before Crozet volunteer firefighters snuffed it out with foam. The car was a total loss; the engine compartment was reduced to twisted metal parts only and the passenger compartment was a scene of melted plastic.
Zyndall Shifflett of Drumheller Towing and Recovery, which operates out of Waynesboro and is currently covering the western Albemarle area for AAA, hauled away the carcass. He said he is called to burnt-up cars about once a month. He speculated that a fuel leak was the cause.
Gass, who holds records as football player at Western Albemarle high school, is a senior at Gettysburg College and drove the car home last week. He was thrilled to discover that his iPod, which lay on the passenger seat during the fire and got smothered with foam, was still working.