Here’s something I, for one, don’t see everyday. In one minute this car at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Astoria went from peacefully parked to fully engulfed in flame. I wouldn’t know what caused it, but all anybody present could do was back the hell away from the conflagration and wait for firefighters to arrive.

By my reckoning there was no reason to fear the fire would spread, although in the moments the flames began igniting there were two other cars parked right next to this one, and a third one nearby. The drivers of those vehicles hopped into them and all peeled out of the place, preventing what could well have been a multi-car bonfire.

With the nearby cars gone the only potentially flammable material within reach of this conflagration might have been the artificial flowers on the crypts at the St. Joseph Mausoleum, seen behind the burning car. But even if those ignited it’s hard to see where they could have spread the flame, given the crypt’s granite surface and the cement sidewalk below.

A woman nearby commented to me that she found it suspicious, and that she had seen a sketchy looking character in the area just minutes before. I wouldn’t know what to make of that but she suggested this fire was set deliberately. It is, indeed, interesting to note that the fire started with pure black smoke coming out of the front seat area, as if some kind of explosive device ignited.

No one was injured and once the flames went out everyone involved seemed calm and in control of the situation. The car was a petrified hulk but it can be replaced.

It reminded me of a time a friend and I were driving upstate on the Taconic when we spotted a car completely engulfed in flame. A man standing a couple of hundred feet away from it waved us down. We were actually close enough that I felt the heat inflict a very minor burn on my arm.

He got into the back seat and slammed the car door on his foot. Ouch. He rattled off some half-assed story about it being his girlfriend’s car, he’d never driven it before, and it just magically burst into flame for no reason.

He did not seem the slightest bit upset or concerned with things like calling the police or an insurance company, though this was before cell phones were common and none of us had one.

He asked if we could get him to the bus station up ahead. We left him at a highway exit he said was nearest the bus station. He exited the car and last we saw of him he was jogging down the exit ramp en route to, we assume, a bus station from which he could skedaddle from this whole mess.

He had only been in the car for about three minutes, and it was not until he exited that the incident and his comments started making sense to us. The friend and I talked the rest of the way upstate about how that dude had to have set the car on fire deliberately, and we speculated on what kind of trouble we could get into for basically aiding and abetted him fleeing the scene. That might have been a really bad guy we transported. We’ll never know.

Getting back to the video above, a car blowing up and letting off gunfire-sounding explosions is not something I see or hear every day. There was some poetry in the ending, where the black smoke suddenly turns completely white, then evaporates altogether.