The most important bit of information you need to know after looking through our high-res gallery of images depicting a prototype 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup truck burning to the ground is that nobody was hurt. There were two engineers inside the vehicle when it caught fire, and both exited to safety.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the truck, which appears to have been testing in Death Valley, appears to be a total loss, minus, of course, whatever information Ford can glean from the conflagration – particularly tracing it back to its root cause. Besides that, we're also expecting the body of the next Super Duty to be hewn from aluminum, as is the case with its smaller brother, the brand-new F-150. Note the little aluminum droppings littering the roadway as apparent proof of that.

Our spy photographers report that it took just 21 minutes for the F-Series Super Duty to burn completely to the ground. The fire appears to have started in the driver-side front wheel well, spreading to engulf the entire front end in three minutes. We can't confirm the source of the blaze, but we're curious if the car's black vinyl cladding, meant to obscure the secrets within, contributed to the fire.

Check out the complete gallery of images to see how a fully working prototype can be reduced to a smoldering mess of aluminum and steel in just 21 minutes flat. We'll let you know if Ford can shed any light on the cause of the fire as soon as we hear back.

UPDATE: Ford has issued the following statement: "While testing an experimental vehicle in Death Valley, there was a fire. We are investigating." That much is clear, and we'll keep you informed of any new information we get.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Timothy Tibbetts
      • 4 Months Ago
      Sort of why you test vehicles. Heavy load, high heat, we got a problem. Find it, fix it, done.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Honestly, this is exactly WHY they test the hell out of prototypes.
      Mike M
      • 4 Months Ago
      Anyone else think it was an odd coincidence that they were towing water?
      • 4 Months Ago
      F-Series Super Pile of Ash.
      Doug Danzeisen Sr
      • 4 Months Ago
      Glad nobody was injured, looks like it spread pretty quickly. I will resist from making the obligatory "Hot truck" comment.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Are there any prototype cars nowadays that DON'T catch on fire?! :/
      • 4 Months Ago
      Aluminum and magnesium....what a great combo for a fire! in the one shot you can see the magnesium light up. Fire fun I first experience when putting out burning VW bugs. On the bright side there isn't much to clean up afterwards
        • 4 Months Ago
        I thought magnesium was outlawed on production vehicles. That stuff burns super hot and nearly impossible to put out.
          • 4 Months Ago
          Well you thought wrong. Both Aston Martin and Jaguar use some magnesium in most/all of their aluminum bodied cars.
      • 4 Months Ago
      What tends to happen with these test vehicles is they are wired up with a bunch of extra testing equipment and it is usually the equipment that causes a problem. That or because the vehicles are often hand built someone leaves a rag or something in the engine compartment. Crazy how much of the vehicle burned away.
      • 4 Months Ago
      I'm glad it's kept the solid front axle so far at least
      • 4 Months Ago
      Pretty clear from those first photos that the camo is on fire first. Maybe external sensor wiring; pretty common in prototype testing. Camo and paint always burn really well. Their lack of getting the required fire extinguisher out is an epic fail though. Prototype vehicle burning. Nothing to see here.
      JIM J
      • 4 Months Ago
      "...appears to be a total loss." Gee, ya think. ..but as many have said, that's why they test them , and better there than with the customer. Expensive loss tho, but they probably would destroy the truck after testing anyway. Just part of the development process. Hope they can determine the cause. Doubtful from the forensics, but perhaps the engineers doing the testing can shed some light.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Clearly it was attempting to use its astronomical torque to slow down mother Earth's rotation and failed. Who's your mama now Mr. Super-Duty truck?!
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