Tesla Model S Bursts Into Flames in California, Requires 6,000 Gallons of Water to Extinguish

Tsing

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Firefighters with Metro Fire of Sacramento had their work cut out for them over the weekend when they were called in to deal with a Tesla Model S that burst into flames on a California highway. According to a tweet that the seventh largest fire agency in the state shared on Saturday, two fire trucks, a water tender, and a ladder truck were called in to tame the fiery Tesla, which ultimately took 6,000 gallons of water to extinguish due to the nature of lithium ion batteries. In contrast, a non-electric car with a traditional combustion engine can be put out with about 700 gallons of water, although research from last year would suggest that hybrids and ICE vehicle are much more likely to catch on fire than EVs.

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You don’t extinguish battery fires. You just keep anything around them from catching while you wait on the battery cells to discharge spectacularly.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of things happen in the EV space:

A) an overall cap on battery capacity (FAA already has one for laptops and mobile devices to ride in the passenger space)

B) some sort of emergency grounding device that can rapidly dump charge to limit the fire duration

C) some way to eject/yank the battery pack even if it’s on fire to be able to drag it to a better location to burn
 
I thought there were courses about this for firefighters. Trying to put out a battery fire with water is like trying the same with oil.

B) some sort of emergency grounding device that can rapidly dump charge to limit the fire duration
That's exactly what the fire does, rapidly dumping the stored energy. If you just ground a battery you can cause a fire even with an old lead acid battery. That's why the first thing firefighters do at a crash scene is disconnecting the battery so it doesn't get grounded accidentally.
 
These things are going to happen and I agree with @Brian_B about new safety measures coming into play.

It's easy for people to take the safety of current internal combustion engines but there have been over a hundred years invested into it. Back when it began I'm sure there were some spectacular disasters but since they were not widely available, unlike current tech, there are not as many historical reports to go by. Does anyone want a Pinto? It was that long ago since the last rolling gas grenade either.

A lot of us here know that EVs need more work and they are not quite there yet but have come a ways in the last decade. I know the tech is also about a century old but the push for it has only really happened in the last 10.

Car safety in general is a moving target and continues to change with the times.
 
I thought there were courses about this for firefighters.
All of a sudden I can completely envision a Beavis and Butthead skit where they are on-site at such a fire and given the hoses. I can hear the laughing while the other keeps yelling "Fire Fire" while the Tesla owner laments their melting car.
 
I thought there were courses about this for firefighters. Trying to put out a battery fire with water is like trying the same with oil.
So, out of curiosity, I just clicked through to the Twitter feed and the fire department linked an article (or maybe instruction?) from Tesla which states to cool the battery down with water. I guess the thought is to let it cool down either by burning up or dumping thousands of gallons of water on it. Although they did mention letting it burn so? But water was still the 'go to.'
 
I'm not learned with lith-ion but maybe it's like Thermite? Maybe it can't be put out once it starts?
 
huh, I'm kind of surprised there isn't some kind of specialized foam for stuff like this.
There is, but it's not widely available. I think as EVs spread it will eventually get adopted by more fire depts.

So, out of curiosity, I just clicked through to the Twitter feed and the fire department linked an article (or maybe instruction?) from Tesla which states to cool the battery down with water. I guess the thought is to let it cool down either by burning up or dumping thousands of gallons of water on it. Although they did mention letting it burn so? But water was still the 'go to.'
I think the proper course of action would be cool everything around the car so nothing else catches fire, and let it burn to the ground. There were multiple cases were the battery reignited after transporting the wreck to some storage. So even if you can temporarily put out the battery if it is compromised it can spontaneously re-ignite.
 
Trying to put out a battery fire with water is like trying the same with oil.
Yeah I was like "why the f*ck are they trying to put this battery fire out with water?"

huh, I'm kind of surprised there isn't some kind of specialized foam for stuff like this.
I assumed that there was myself, but apparently not.

There is, but it's not widely available.
Ah okay, I see.

Aaaaahhhhh, interesting.
 
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