A Tesla Model X driver died of his injuries earlier today after his vehicle caught on fire in a crash on the highway in the Bay Area.
Following the accident, Tesla assisted in the removal of the battery pack that caught on fire.
There’s a lot of talk about electric vehicle fires even though there’s no statistic showing that they catch on fire any more frequently than gas-powered cars.
But there’s no doubt that they burn differently due to the battery packs and it is affecting the work of first responders as we reported in a ‘Behind the scene look at how firefighters disabled a Tesla battery while extinguishing a Model S fire’.
Today, a Model X hit the median barrier on highway 101 in Mountain View, according to the California Highway Patrol (via NBC), and it quickly caught on fire before being hit by two other cars.
The driver was taken to the hospital, but he unfortunately died of his injuries.
Images of the aftermath show that the front-end of the Model X was completely destroyed either because of the impact, the extraction process, or the fire (pictures via Dean C. Smith on Twitter):
Interestingly, Tesla sent engineers to assist the firefighters in removing the vehicle and its battery pack from the scene (pictures via Dean C. Smith on Twitter):
The authorities are reportedly investigating the cause of the fire.
It’s a tragic accident, but as previously discussed, nothing indicates that electric vehicles, like Tesla’s vehicles, catch on fire more often than gas-powered cars.
It’s not uncommon for any vehicle to catch on fire after a severe high-speed crash, which seems to be the case here.
But with this said, it’s still important for first responders to have a good understanding of how to approach a lithium battery fire.
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 also has firewalls inside the battery pack that can slow down the fire from spreading between the modules.
In this case, it seems to have stopped about halfway through the pack.