Tesla’s fire requires 36,000 gallons of water to extinguish, officials say

Tesla’s fire requires 36,000 gallons of water to extinguish, officials say

A Tesla engulfed in flames on the side of a highway required firefighters to use 36,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze, Alabama officials said.

The fire resulted from a crash at about 11 p.m. on Christmas Day, the Pine Level Fire Department said in a news release the following morning.



The lithium-ion battery in the all-electric Tesla Model Y experienced “thermal runaway,” which is a chain reaction that causes energy release and leads to uncontrollable increases in temperature.

Because of the thermal runaway, firefighters said they had to use two hose lines and 36,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze in just over an hour.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency closed the interstate while the fire was being extinguished.

“This was a first for Autauga County,” the fire department wrote. “Electric vehicle fires are unusual and present unique challenges and dangers to firefighters.”



The smoke from these types of fires contains toxic gases such as hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride, officials said. The batteries can also reignite even after they blaze has been put out, the fire department added.

Lithium-ion batteries store a lot of energy in a small amount of space,” according to the National Fire Protection Association. “When that energy is released in an uncontrolled manner, it generates heat, which can turn certain internal battery components into flammable and toxic gases.”

Tesla says its electric vehicles catch fire less often than other vehicles around the country.

One Tesla catches on fire for every 210 million miles traveled, versus the national average of one vehicle fire for every 19 million miles traveled, according to the company’s 2021 safety report.



The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency took the driver, who was not hurt, into custody.

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