BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A sports car worth $107,000 was engulfed in flames on US 129, known as The Dragon, after a fire started from the back of the vehicle on Sunday afternoon.
The Blount County Sheriff's Office reported that deputies originally responded to reports of a vehicle fire at mile marker 6. A deputy found the car engulfed in flames at mile marker 7.5 northbound, with fire spreading on the ground near the vehicle.
The deputy put the ground fire out with his fire extinguisher, and the Blount County Fire Department arrived on scene to put out the car fire.
The owner of the car said he was driving on The Dragon when his car's dashboard lit up with multiple warning and error lights. He stopped in the road to check what was happening when a motorcyclist pulled up next to him and told him that the back of his car was on fire.
The owner of the Nissan GT-R NISMO grabbed his valuable items and got out of his car. Soon after, the vehicle and everything inside was deemed "a total loss."
The vehicle's owner told Local 8 News he had been cleaning leaves out of the front grill of the car all day, and he believed some leaves must have made their way to the exhaust and brakes in the rear.
"There are some brake and exhaust cooling ducts in the rear and I believe some dry leaves made their way into contact with hot surfaces," he told Local 8 News. "When I opened the trunk, I could see a very very small fire and smoke coming from the right rear corner of the trunk. We did what we could to extinguish the fire but without some way to remove body panels and under trays, there was just no way to attack the source of the fire."
The driver said he had two to three minutes to fight the fire before he was forced to exit the vehicle. He said he also wanted to apologize for the "the inconvenience caused by the highway being closed for two hours during the fire and recovery of the car."
The driver said he is a professional race driving instructor, and in the future he will be "equipping my car with the largest fire extinguisher that can fit in the trunk, a fire axe, large first aid kit, blankets and a GPS emergency beacon."
The Tennessee Department of Transportation cleared the roadway for normal use after the remnants of the car were towed away.