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Driver of third Model S to catch fire speaks out

The owner of the third Tesla Model S to catch fire is telling his side of the story.

The driver of the most recent Model S to catch fire has recounted the incident on Tesla's corporate blog.

Just last week the third Tesla Model S in five weeks caught fire in Tennessee following an accident, leading to widespread speculation about the crash itself and the crashworthiness of the Model S. However, the driver of that vehicle, Juris Shibayama, has taken to the Tesla corporate blog to help clear the air on both subjects.

According to Shibayama, "a rusty three-pronged trailer hitch” was the proverbial spark that started the literal fire. The hitch was laying in the middle of the highway and Shibayama didn't have time to swerve around it.

Shibayama claims he hit the hitch with such force that it "lifted the car up in the air” and left "a gouge in the tarmac where the item scraped into the road.” The impact presumably pierced the Model S' underside armor and penatrated the car's lithium-ion battery pack.

Shibayama was able to drive for another 30-45 seconds before the Model S' dash lit up with the warning, "Car needs service. Car may not restart." Hoping to make it home, Shibayama pushed on, but was forced to pull over about a minute later when he received the warning, "Please pull over safely. Car is shutting down."

Soon after exiting the car, Shibayama says he noticed smoke coming from underneath the car. About two minutes later, the front of the Model S was engulfed in flames.

Despite the fire, Shibayama says he is thankful that he was driving a Model S.

"I am thankful to God that I was totally uninjured in any way from this impact. Had I not been in a Tesla, that object could have punched through the floor and caused me serious harm.”

He added: "While driving after I hit the object until I pulled over, the car performed perfectly, and it was a totally controlled situation. There was never a point at which I was anywhere even close to any flames.”

The flames never reached the cabin, and Shibayama says he was even able to unlock the car once the firefighters arrived.

"I would buy another one in a heartbeat,” Shibayama said of the Model S.

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