A San Juan Island man escaped without injury but his Toyota 4 Runner was completely destroyed after the vehicle burst into flames Monday morning on Roche Harbor Road.
Firefighters doused the blaze with about 700 gallons of water before it was extinguished. The man was westbound on Roche Harbor Road at about 9 a.m. when fire broke out in the underbelly of the early '90s SUV.
"The good news is that no one was injured," Chief Steve Marler of San Juan Island Fire Department. "The bad news is the young man's car is totaled."
Marler said a busted fuel line is the likely cause of the fire, based on what the driver of the vehicle, in his late 20's and traveling solo at the time, reported at the scene. The man smelled a strong odor of fuel and saw liquid pouring out from beneath it after the vehicle went up in flames and he pulled over to the side of the roadway and quickly exited, Marler said.
"We'll probably list the official cause as 'undetermined' because its so badly burned up it would be difficult to make an accurate determination," he said.
Monday morning's car fire is the first "real fire" that the department has fought this year, Marler said. He added that it would likely have ignited and spread into foliage surrounding the road if the same situation occurred just two months from now.
"It was really flaming," he said. "If it happened in September it would have caught the brush on fire and then we would've had a whole different kind of problem on our hands."
The driver said that he intended to tow the burned out vehicle to his family's property, Marler said.