Hurricane Ian Floods Are Causing Electric Vehicles to Burst Into Flames

The North Collier Fire Rescue District along with Florida's Chief Financial Officer & State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis stated that electric vehicles are spontaneously catching fire in Florida because their batteries suffered water damage after the floods caused by Hurricane Ian.
Tesla Model X being extinguished 9 photos
Photo: North Collier Fire Rescue District
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In the social media posts, they show and explain how difficult it was to put out the fire from the batteries of a Tesla Model X. The most worrying thing they said was that this issue isn’t isolated to this particular vehicle. And that authorities are dealing with EVs catching fire all over Southwest Florida.

It’s a well-established fact that lithium and water aren’t friends. If you look at videos about the chemical reaction between a simple AA battery submerged in a bowl of water, you’d be amazed. Now bring that up to scale with the massive batteries inside any EV, add tons of salt water that do extensive damage to them, and you end up with a recipe for disaster.

Luckily this time, the damages were only in material form, and no one got injured. Part of the firefighters stayed on the scene for a couple of hours after initially putting out the Tesla, to make sure it didn’t spontaneously combust again.

This isn’t the first case when an electric vehicle catches fire in the wake of a flood or under similar circumstances. There have been numerous accounts in the past that even had less apparent reasons for bursting into flames.

Four months ago, a damaged Tesla Model S suffered a similar fate in a junkyard, three weeks after it crashed. Other cases were documented in Germany, Shanghai, San Francisco, and Hong Kong, all from 2019.

The firefighters are facing a real problem here with the actual method of putting the fire out. Given that lithium batteries are set ablaze by water alone, some changes within the fire departments are sure to occur in the future, regarding the substance used for dousing the fire.

To avoid similar incidents, state officials are asking EV owners that had their cars flooded in salt water to get them towed away from structures, where damage to other property could occur.

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About the author: Codrin Spiridon
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Codrin just loves American classics, from the 1940s and ‘50s, all the way to the muscle cars of the '60s and '70s. In his perfect world, we'll still see Hudsons and Road Runners roaming the streets for years to come (even in EV form, if that's what it takes to keep the aesthetic alive).
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