Cars catch on fire after severe high-speed impacts. That’s nothing new to Tesla or electric vehicles, but there’s also no doubt that battery fires are different from gas-powered car fires. The latest example comes from a tragic fatal accident in Indianapolis early this morning.
The driver and passenger of a Tesla Model S died after hitting a tree at a reportedly high-speed. The car caught on fire following the accident and was difficult to extinguish according to local firefighters.
Local news interviewed a witness that said the vehicle was “speeding when it lost control at the intersection, crashed into a tree, and caught on fire”:
“It hit that tree and it bounced around, and all of a sudden it just exploded, and I had to accelerate my vehicle because all the car parts went up in the air and I had to accelerate just to get away from it,”
The driver, a woman, was pronounced dead at the scene, the passenger in the car, a man, died at the hospital. Some reports state that it took about 15 minutes for the rescue team to free the passenger from the car.
Here’s a video of the aftermath:
Spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Fire Department, Rita Reith, commented on the fire:
“The car, kind of, for lack of a better term, disintegrated. The debris field is at least 100 yards long. The batteries and the pieces and parts from the Tesla — all which were on fire when firefighters initially arrived.”
It’s the fourth Tesla to catch on fire this year. Another instance happened after an impact on the highway, while the two others happened without any impact. One instance was during a test drive, Tesla said that it was due to ‘electrical connection improperly tightened’ by a human instead of robots, and the other fire without an impact happened while the car was charging at a Supercharger.
Tesla recommends using “large amounts of water” to extinguish a battery fire in its vehicles and to use a thermal imaging camera to monitor the battery for at least one hour after it is found to be completely cooled:
“If the high voltage battery catches fire, is exposed to high heat, or is bent, twisted, cracked, or breached in any way, use large amounts of water to cool the battery. DO NOT extinguish with a small amount of water. Always establish or request an additional water supply.”
Tesla offers extensive documentation and training for first responders on its website.
It’s worth noting that 174,000 car fires were reported on US highways last year. Of course, the vast majority had nothing to do with electric vehicles or Tesla.