Flames Destroy Ronald Lauder's Classic Citroën

One of the Citroëns in Ronald Lauder's collection was destroyed when it erupted in flames in Wainscott Wednesday morning. Durell Godfrey photos

A 1979 Citroën owned by Ronald Lauder, the billionaire chairman emeritus of the Estee Lauder cosmetics company, was destroyed when it inexplicably went up in flames while being driven to a storage facility Wednesday morning.

An employee behind the wheel heard a noise coming from under the hood, according to David Browne, the chief of the East Hampton Town fire marshal's office. The car was stopped at the traffic light at Wainscott Northwest Road, south of Montauk Highway and just west of the Wainscott Post Office. Smoke and flames soon followed. The driver got out before the car was engulfed. 

The Bridgehampton Fire Department responded at 10:53 a.m., an engine and a tanker truck arriving to douse the car with water. It was a total loss, the fire marshal said, but no one was hurt. 

The fire marshal's office has not yet determined the cause. Mr. Lauder, who has a house in Wainscott, was not at the scene. 

Eastbound traffic on the highway was diverted while firefighters worked for about an hour. Westbound traffic slowly moved through. Wainscott Northwest Road south of the highway was also closed to traffic.