The more I look at it, the more I believe it. I believe photographer happened upon a smoky car and thought it cool... setup the shot expecting just an ordinary scene where owner lifts hood of car and solves the problem. Then this happened and he had no choice but to shoot. The owner had already run for his life.
I could be projecting, and I know nothing for sure. But if I happened upon a smoking car, I sure would get my camera out. If it caught while I was watching, I'd shoot film. Heck I've had this happen to one of my cars (almost). But I got there to the carburetor and extinguished the little flame before it ran down the fuel line. I wasn't taking pictures at the time.