Photo: Metro Fire of Sacramento
Typically, it’s best for your car to not be on fire. But sometimes, life has other, more on-fire plans for your car. And if you happen to be driving an electric vehicle, those fires are notoriously hard to put out. In the case of the latest Tesla that set itself on fire, it took thousands of gallons of water to extinguish the flames.
On Saturday, Metro Fire of Sacramento shared photos and a summary of the incident on Twitter. The Tesla Model S in question reportedly showed no signs of trouble before its battery “spontaneously caught fire” while the driver was headed east on California’s Highway 50. The good news is, no injuries were reported.
But putting it out required two fire engines, a water tender, and a ladder truck. Emergency crews also had to jack up the burning car in order to access its burning battery. And by the time the flames were successfully extinguished, they had reportedly used 6,000 gallons of water. Which seems like a lot.
When asked if fire foam would have been more effective, Metro Fire of Sacramento said “Unfortunately not. Fire foam works to smother oxygen, which breaks the fire triangle of the traditional combustion process. When lithium batteries burn, the cathode material breaks down and releases its own oxygen, so it will continue to burn through the foam.”
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This certainly isn’t the first time a Tesla has caught on fire, nor is it a problem that only affects Teslas. In August of 2021, Chevrolet recalled every single Bolt and Bolt EUV over a fire risk that cost the company about $1 billion. And as we recently reported, there’s still no good way to put out EV fires. One potential solution is to use a crane to lift the burning vehicle off the road and drop it in a tank of water. But for the near future, firefighters are probably going to have to stick with using thousands of gallons of water any time an EV catches on fire.