"I think I need a tow"

Natalie Here--
So everyone knows that Monday mornings suck, but this past Monday really made me take pause and reconsider this cliche. There is the "running late and haven't had my coffee" Monday morning and then there is the whole other realm of bad morning, the "my car broke down in the rain and caught fire" Monday morning.
That's right. Caught fire.

I was driving Thomas' car to work yesterday morning since I leave the mini van with Kathy during the week so she can take Ella and Sam around easily. It is a sporty Mazda 6 and we just got the clutch replaced in it, so it is fun to drive and I enjoy taking it to work. However, at 6 am when I hopped in the car it was acting strange. It was idling really low and I had to gun the gas to keep it from stalling out. I was able to get it about 2 miles from the house when it really started to die on me. I managed to get it to an office parking lot before it completely stalled out. Since it was pouring down rain and had been raining all night, I thought that the spark plugs could be damp or that there could be some moisture in the gas tank since I was almost empty. To dry out the spark plugs, I sat in neutral and revved the engine for a while, however, every time I tried to get it into gear, the car stalled out and the check engine light came on. My goal was tojust get the car across the main road to the gas station where I could fill up and see if that helped or at least get out of the rain and call for a tow.

I tried one last time to get it into gear, but this time when the car stalled out, the brakes also failed and I had to throw the emergency break to stop. I also smelled a burning smell so I gave up, resigned that it was a bigger and more expensive issue that I thought. I just got done sending Thomas' a text asking if I should get the car towed when I realized that the car was on fire. This is not some female exaggeration to a smoking radiator--I mean I saw FLAMES. I grabbed my purse and scrambled to get out of the car. Standing in the down pour while I called 911, I kept expecting the rain to put the fire out, but it only grew. I heard a lot POP sound and high tailed it to the opposite side of the lot to wait for help. A cop pulled up and tried to put out the flame with his little extinguisher. No dice. It ended up taking 2 fire trucks, hoses blasting, to get the flames out and this only after they hacked away at the hood to get to all of the flames.
These are the holes in the hood for the axes!

The whole incident didn't last more than 30 minutes, and the fire didn't last more than 15, but in that time, the entire front driver side bumper and engine carriage was melted away--it actually looks like a giant bite was taken out of the car!

We actually had a lot of personal items in the trunk of the car which was filled with acrid smoke, so those items are toast. And of course the car it totaled. The good news is that we have GAP insurance on the vehicle, so at least the car will be paid off. Of course, I am most thankful that I am okay and that this did not happen with the girls in the car. In fact, if a car is going to suddenly catch on fire for no real apparent reason, well, you would hope it would go as smoothly as this.

We will probably never know what caused the fire. The insurance company is not going to investigate since the inquiry will cost almost as much as the car is worth. It may have something to do with that new clutch but all the firefighters could tell us was that it wasn't the engine and it looked like it originated at or near the transmission.

We couldn't get into the engine afterwords to take a look at the pile of melted engine.

An entire tire melted away.

All I do know is that this is one Monday morning I am not likely to forget any time soon!