See photos from the Tesla Model S that 'spontaneously' caught fire while driving down the highway
A Tesla Model S "spontaneously caught fire" on a California highway on Saturday.
Metro Fire Sacramento said that it took about 6,000 gallons of water to put the fire out.
The fire originated in the Tesla's lithium-ion battery compartment, officials said.
A Tesla Model S "spontaneously caught fire" while driving on the highway on Saturday, officials said. California firefighters had to use about 6,000 gallons of water to put out the flames.
The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department said in a Facebook post that the Tesla driver was heading eastbound on Highway 50 near Sunrise Boulevard when he noticed "heavy black smoke" coming from underneath the vehicle. No one was injured in the incident, and the driver was able to safely pull over to the side of the highway, the department said.
Metro Fire of Sacramento posted a video from the incident on Twitter that showed firefighters hosing the vehicle down — a process that the department said took several hours and three fire engines to complete.
—Metro Fire of Sacramento (@metrofirepio) January 29, 2023
Pictures from the scene also show the fire department investigating the Tesla's undercarriage. The department said on Facebook that the fire started in the electric-car's battery compartment which had not sustained any previous damage ahead of the incident.
The average fire that involves a combustion-engine car requires about 700 gallons of water to put it out, while a fire caused by an EV battery can take over three-times as much water, the fire department said.
"Modern technology evolution requires continuous advancements in modern firefighting techniques that are currently being evaluated for efficiency," Metro Fire Sacramento said in a post on Facebook.
Electric-car fires can be difficult to put out because of the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries, which burn hotter than their gas counterparts.The batteries can also catch fire multiple times after the first incident, posing as a fire hazard for up to several days. In 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board said that EV battery fires can represent a risk to first responders, including electric shock and a reignited fire due to the "stranded" energy in a damaged EV battery.
Despite the difficulty of addressing EV fires, they're not a common issue. A 2022 report from AutoinsuranceEZ suggested that EVs were generally less likely to catch fire than combustion-engine vehicles.
Tesla did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
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