BMW destroyed by fire within hours as owner lights joss sticks to thank gods for purchase

Man writes off car he had just bought for nearly US$80,000 – caused by his own ritual, it is believed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 6:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 10:37pm

A man in eastern China whose brand-new BMW caught fire less than a day after he bought it may have set it alight himself when burning incense, it was reported.

The unnamed driver in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, said he had paid nearly half a million yuan (nearly US$80,000) for the car hours before it went up in flames on Tuesday, news website ThePaper.cn reported.

Videos posted online by people living in the same residential compound showed the man and a woman covering the car with a red banner, laying out dishes containing sacrifices and setting up joss sticks as tall as an adult human, as part of a ritual to thank gods for blessing them with a new car and to wish for further good luck.

The price the man said he paid for the car was twice the cost of the same model in the United States, largely because of the tariff and tax imposed on imported cars by the Chinese government.

Witness accounts varied as to how the fire started, but when firefighters arrived the entire front section of the vehicle was alight. It took the firefighters more than 10 minutes to put out the fire.

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“(I) just lit some joss sticks. It was very far (from the car),” the driver said in one video, from an unidentified source.

“Twenty minutes later a neighbour told me my car was on fire,” he added. Photographs of the car suggested it was beyond repair.

The city’s fire department told local media that the incident needed further investigation but was probably linked to the man’s worshipping ceremony, and would not be the first time such a mishap had occurred.

The fire department did not respond to the South China Morning Post’s attempts to contact it on Thursday afternoon.

Last year, a black BMW X5 sport utility vehicle in southern China’s Hunan province was consumed by flames after its owner lit firecrackers to celebrate buying it, according to mainland Chinese media reports.

In February, a transport company in the eastern province of Anhui lost at least four new trucks in a similar accident.