Yesterday's fire that engulfed a Tesla Model S, the first blaze involving the critically acclaimed electric sedan, was caused when a piece of road debris impacted the front of the car, damaging the battery pack and starting a fire, according to an email sent to AutoblogGreen by Tesla. Now, The New York Times has learned that the fire was indeed caused by debris that made "a direct impact ... to one of the 16 modules within the Model S battery pack," according to Tesla spokesperson Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean.
Despite the blaze, Tesla maintains that the battery packs did their job by isolating the fire, with Jarvis-Shean saying, "Because each module within the battery pack is, by design, isolated by fire barriers to limit any potential damage, the fire in the battery pack was contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle."
The nature of the fire, though, seemed to catch the Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority off guard. The department's report, which was obtained by the International Business Times and partially published on Jalopnik, claims that water used to put out the blaze seemed to intensify the fire, forcing the firefighters to use a dry chemical. Later, they found the battery pack still burning inside the front end. The report claims firefighters, "had to puncture multiple holes in the pack to apply water to the burning material in the battery," and also had to cut into the frame to douse the burning pack.
Tesla's stock prices fell shortly after the story broke yesterday, ending the day with a $12.05-drop in share prices as markets closed. Tesla's shares have lost a further $11.64 as of this writing, and are down around six percentage points since trading opened this morning. We'll stay with this story as more information becomes available.