Firefighters doused the blazing Tesla Inc. Model X’s battery pack, and then company engineers removed about one-quarter of its power cells before the vehicle was deemed safe to tow off of a California freeway.
That didn’t prevent the powerful and highly flammable lithium-ion battery cells from reigniting. The car caught fire twice more within 24 hours of the March 23 fatal crash, and again six days later, according to a safety bulletin from the fire department in Mountain View.
Emergency personnel at the scene of a Tesla crash on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View, California on March 23.
Source: KTVU via AP Photo
Fires on electric vehicles are rare, but the volatile chemistry of their batteries and the need for special training on how to extinguish them raises new safety questions as automakers are poised to dramatically increase production. Techniques for putting out burning gasoline-fueled vehicles could make worse a blaze in a battery powered one.
“We’re in uncharted waters here,” said Donald Sadoway, a professor of materials chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “When you start putting 70 kilowatt-hour packs in a car, it’s very different than what happens in a cellphone.”View Article