A Tesla car catches fire after three weeks in a car cemetery

A Tesla car caught fire at a motor vehicle cemetery in Rancho Cordova, California, USA. The car was badly damaged in a crash three weeks ago.

When the firefighters arrived, the electric vehicle caught fire. Every time a fire was extinguished, the car’s battery compartment would light up again, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District firefighters wrote in an Instagram post.

Firefighters and car cemetery workers tried to turn the car to one side to direct water into the battery. But the firefighters wrote: “Tesla caught fire repeatedly due to residual heat.”

A Tesla car caught fire and took tens of thousands of gallons of water to put it out

So they tried something else: they used a tractor to dig a hole in the ground, managed to get the car in, and then they filled the hole with water. This allowed firefighters to flood the battery and eventually extinguish the fire, which burned at more than 3,000 degrees, Captain Parker Wellborn, a spokesman for the fire department, told the Washington Post.

It took the 10 firefighters more than an hour and 17,000 gallons of water to put out the flames, Wellborn said. About the same amount of water is used to put out a fire in a building.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Electric car fires, a novelty for firefighters

Wellborn said the fire department had not yet determined what caused the “spontaneous fire to ignite”. He said this was the first time his division, which serves Sacramento, had put out a Tesla fire.

Wellborn noted that the department is preparing to meet more and more, especially as more and more electric vehicle owners are installing battery chargers in their garage.

“This is something completely new for firefighters. We are still trying to understand fires [de vehicule electrice]Wellborn said.

Another Tesla caught fire in 2020 and another in 2021

The situation in Sacramento is similar to other electric vehicle fires in recent years and presents the potential risks faced by drivers, automakers and fire departments.

In December 2020, a home in San Ramon, California was set on fire after two Tesla cars caught fire while they were parked in a garage. One of the cars was left empty overnight when it caught fire, and the fire spread to a second Tesla. Then the garage caught fire and at least six fire engines were needed to put out the fires.

In Woodlands, Texas, two passengers died in April 2021 after a driverless Tesla car veered off the road, crashed into a tree and caught fire. The battery ignited and burned for four hours, requiring more than 113 thousand liters of water to extinguish the flames.

Another Tesla Model caught fire in Frisco, Texas, that sounded like a flamethrower, after its owner veered off the road after hearing strange noises coming from the car.

What are manufacturers doing to reduce these risks?

Such incidents prompted some car manufacturers to recall thousands of electric vehicles due to the fires. In December, General Motors recalled 141,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles after their batteries began to ignite spontaneously. Audi and Hyundai have also recalled electric vehicles due to the fire risk.

Turning off a Tesla battery can take up to 24 hours and may require between 11,000 and 30,000 liters of water “put directly on the battery”. However, Wellborn said the amount of water needed to put out battery fires could be closer to 76,000 or even 113,000 liters.

Wellborn said that lithium-ion batteries in electric cars can be difficult to extinguish because they continue to burn until all the stored energy is released: “We’re basically struggling to release the energy.”

The Sacramento Fire Department said filling the pit with water to solve the motor cemetery fire reduced the amount of water that would otherwise be necessary. After the fire was extinguished, the car almost completely turned into a pile of molten and burning metal.

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