The president of a high-performance automobile specialty shop near Atlanta saw his $109,900 Nissan GT-R Premium burn to the pavement Sunday on “The Dragon.”
Sharif Abdelbaset, of Marietta, Ga., was driving north near mile marker 7.5 on Calderwood Highway (U.S. 129) at 4:45 p.m. Nov. 5 when the dashboard lit up with multiple warning and error lights, according to a Blount County Sheriff’s Office report.
Abdelbaset stopped in the road to check what was happening when a motorcyclist pulled up beside him and said the rear of the car was on fire.
Patrick Strzelecki had just finished working for 129photos.com and pulled his truck over to let the silver Nissan with the Forged2 license plate pass when he saw the fire in a rear wheel well and also stopped behind it.
He said it appeared leaves had collected under the car and around the exhaust.
Strzelecki said he grabbed a few bottles of water from his truck to pour on the fire, and the motorcycle rider tried to beat the flames with his jacket.
The photographer ran back to where friends were still set up nearby to see whether they had a fire extinguisher and quickly returned. “By that time the whole trunk was on fire,” Strzelecki said.
Abdelbaset was grabbing what he could from the GT-R, a model nicknamed “Godzilla,” before it was fully engulfed in flames.
An attempt to reach Abdelbaset on Monday at his business, Forged Performance, was unsuccessful, but Sunday night he posted on Facebook that he thought an accumulation of leaves started the fire.
“Thankfully nobody was injured and nothing important was lost,” he posted online.
The BCSO report said the car was completely engulfed and the east side of the road was catching fire when a deputy arrived. The deputy used the extinguisher from the patrol car to put out the fire on the ground, where it burned about a 10-foot circle in the leaves, according to the Blount County Fire Department.
The fire department received the call about the fire at 4:45 p.m. and responded with three firefighters and three trucks.
The firefighters arrived at 5:21 p.m., had the fire under control at 5:28 p.m. and left the scene at 7:09 p.m.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation checked the roadway for damage and cleared it for use.
When Strzelecki saw he could do nothing further to help with the fire, he grabbed his camera and began snapping photos.
Within 24 hours those images had been viewed more than 115,000 times on the Facebook page of 129photos.com, according Dave Allison, owner of the business.