Tesla Model Y's Battery Spontaneously Combusts in Oak Creek Canyon, What Caused It?

Firefighters from Sedona Fire District responded to a battery fire that affected a Tesla Model Y in Oak Creek Canyon. The crews needed almost two hours to extinguish the fire. The area was affected by flooding, which has been proven to cause battery fires in electric vehicles in the past.
Tesla Model Y's battery spontaneously combusts in Oak Creek Canyon 6 photos
Photo: Sedona Fire District | Edited
Tesla Model Y's battery spontaneously combusts in Oak Creek CanyonTesla Model Y's battery spontaneously combusts in Oak Creek CanyonTesla Model Y's battery spontaneously combusts in Oak Creek CanyonClosure on SR 89A (Oak Creek Canyon)Closure on SR 89A (Oak Creek Canyon)
Lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles pack a lot of energy and can turn into a time bomb when anything goes wrong. Statistics show that EV battery fires are rare, but they cause an emotional response when they happen. EV detractors also use these events as arguments against a larger-scale adoption of electric vehicles. What is important to remember is that EV battery fires don't happen explosively and can take a long time to develop, leaving the car's occupants with enough time to evacuate.

But that doesn't mean they are less scary for those who witness them. This is especially true since extinguishing a battery fire can be extremely difficult. The reaction is self-sustainable as long as the battery pack is still warm. Firefighters know this, and cooling the battery pack is their main priority. Depending on their equipment, some departments may immerse the car in a water pool to help cool down the Li-Ion cells. When such equipment is unavailable, they either let it burn while ensuring the fire doesn't extend or they spend an insane amount of water to put the fire out.

Many things could cause a battery fire, starting with a manufacturing defect, as owners of the Chevrolet Bolt know that too well. EV battery packs are also prone to damage. There's a reason why insurance companies usually write off an EV, even for minor damage to the battery pack. It's simply too dangerous to let them back on the road, and they don't want to take any risk. Finally, water doesn't mix well with Li-ion batteries, and we've seen flooding triggering a wave of EV fires, most recently in the wake of hurricane Ian.

A battery fire that happened Wednesday in Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon has flooding as the suspected cause. Sedona Fire District crews discovered that the fire originated in the high-voltage battery pack of a Tesla Model Y. Firefighters needed one and a half hours to extinguish the blaze. To cool down the battery pack, the crew lifted the Tesla using a jack and sprayed the battery with water.

The area is currently under warning, and the SR 89A road, where the incident happened, has been closed because of a landslide. Without further information, it's hard to know what caused the battery fire in this Tesla. It could have been a rock under the car that damaged the battery pack, or the Model Y's battery pack could've been affected by the flooding. If you have more information about this incident, don't hesitate to contact us.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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