Newtown resident Ken Cardelle was driving near the Highland Plaza at 123 South Main St at approximately 5 p.m. Friday, when a passing car flashed it's lights at him. "The car was smoking a little bit, so I pulled into the parking lot," Cardelle said.
No sooner had he made the turn, when the power in the car seized. Once the steering and brakes locked, Cardelle got out of the car, which by that time was making crackling and boom sounds. As he was moving away from the car, it burst into flames.
The car, a black 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, was assumed to be totaled, as everything under the hood, and including the hood, was completely destroyed. The front tires and much of the front half of the body had melted. Cardelle had owned the car for only six months.
Fire Marshall Bill Halstead said the problem could have been caused by any number of things. "You can't give a cause with this. It could have been a failure under the hood, an oil leak or an electrical malfunction," Halstead said.
Two fire companies, Botsford and Newtown Hook and Ladder, came to extinguish the flames, which were said not have lasted more than a few minutes.
Assistant Chief Joe Miller said the flames never reached the passenger compartment. He noted that a trail of oil on the roadway was a hint that an oil leak could have been the problem.