McVILLE, N.D. (AP) _ A man whose car became mired up to its doors in a muddy ditch spun the tires so much they caught fire and exploded the gas tank, burning him to death, authorities said.

''We couldn't even touch the metal, it was so hot,'' Nelson County Sheriff Art Varty said of the charred wreck in which 66-year-old Gerhard Larson of McVille died Wednesday morning.

Larson drove his car into the ditch and became stuck at about 6 a.m. while westbound on a Nelson County township road 71/2 miles northwest of McVille, said Highway Patrolman Del Johnston. McVille is in east-central North Dakota.

The car had sunk up to its doors in mud, and Larson apparently tried to free it by spinning the wheels, Johnston said. The tires ignited, and the car's doors were sufficiently blocked by mud to prevent Larson from getting out quickly, he said.

Varty said the gas tank apparently blew up shortly after the tires overheated.

Johnston said he had heard of other instances in which an overheating tire had ignited.