Car explodes in Essex Town - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Car explodes in Essex Town

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ESSEX, Vt. -

"Woke up and pulled my shade up and looked down the road and saw a car fully engulfed in flames," Tim Labombard said.

Labombard couldn't believe what he saw Tuesday morning in Essex Town. The car belonging to his neighbor Maher Elhashami burst into flames while parked outside.

By the time authorities arrived, nothing but a charred shell remained. Shattered glass could be found as far as 70 feet away.

"It's still under investigation, both to include the cause and what happened and if anybody is responsible for it," Essex Police Lt. George Murtie said. "It's suspicious because cars that are parked on the street don't routinely burst into flames."

Murtie says their officers hope to glean more from the car at the impound while state arson investigators continue to work the case on their end. Police say there's no evidence of the presence or absence of a bomb and note that car parts can explode if a vehicle catches on fire.

Residents we spoke with say it's just the latest in a series of odd incidents at Elhashami's house.

"I kind of knew who it was as soon as I saw it down there. He's been kind of causing a disturbance for a while in the neighborhood," said Ryan Doorey, a neighbor.

Neighbors claim Elhashami burned two American flags earlier this summer.

Another WCAX News reporter received a trespass warning when she asked Elhashami about it at the time. He later told her off camera that he only burned one flag after it touched the ground, which is not illegal and is the standard protocol when the flag touches the ground.

"We'll certainly take that into consideration, sure," Murtie said. "I think while the investigation is ongoing we probably wouldn't comment on it either way."

"There's a lot of odd things happening lately around here. Just to have a car blow up in your neighborhood is a little scary," said Renee Labombard, a neighbor.

Police interviewed Elhashami and his neighbors and say they'll follow up.

Our attempts to contact Mr. Elhashami Tuesday proved unsuccessful. Federal investigators would not confirm if they are involved in the case, but neighbors told us they had spoken to the FBI last month.

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