Shares of Tesla Motors Inc. fell $12.05 to $180.95 — the stock's biggest one-day decline since July 16.
The incident happened Tuesday after 8 a.m. as the driver was traveling southbound on state Route 167 through Kent, said Trooper Chris Webb of the Washington State Patrol. The driver stated that he believed he had struck some metal debris on the freeway, so he exited the highway and the vehicle became disabled.
The driver told authorities he began to smell something burning and then the vehicle caught fire. Firefighters needed several attempts to extinguish the flames because the blaze kept reigniting, Webb said. A trooper who responded to the scene was unable to locate any objects on the roadway, but Department of Transportation workers did observe some debris near the scene.
Webb said there was too much damage from the fire to see what damage the debris may have caused.
The automobile website Jalopnik.com posted photos of the blaze that it says were taken by a reader, along with a video. The video shows the front of the Tesla Model S in flames.
Tesla said the flames were contained to the front of the $70,000 vehicle due to its design and construction. Company spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean said there were no indications that the fire was caused by anything other than the crash.
"This was not a spontaneous event," she said. "Every indication we have at this point is that the fire was a result of the collision and the damage sustained through that."