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.


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  • 246 Comments
      Brooksy201
      • 1 Year Ago
      So what that the electric car caught on fire.... ooooooooooo. We drive around now with a tank FULL of a much more easily combustible liquid just sloshing around in the back, or underneath us. **** happens. I hate the fact that electric car naysayers will use this as fuel (pardon the pun) against the electric car movement.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      My tire had a blow out, the cause of the blow out originated in the Dunlop tires.
      Yoeun Pen
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder what people said 100 years ago when the ICE automobile was first introduced. People forget that there is a controlled explosion happening every time they drive.
      Jake
      • 1 Year Ago
      Caption a pic: "...the fire in the battery pack was contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle."
      Dave D
      • 1 Year Ago
      Time to buy some Tesla stock!!!
      whatamooseiam
      • 1 Year Ago
      Meh...I'm still holding. Bought in at $75. I'll sell if it gets down to $150.
      onewayroll
      • 1 Year Ago
      The only issue I see here is how hard it was to put the fire out, not that it caught fire in the first place.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      T-Mille
      • 1 Year Ago
      A gas-powered Fiero catches fire and nobody cares. A battery-powered Tesla catches fire and everyone loses their minds.
        John
        • 1 Year Ago
        @T-Mille
        Little known fact about the Fiero fires. They were caused by the owners. You see the original 2.5 4cyl oil pan that they had in place only contained 3 quarts of oil and about another half of a quart in the pan. When owners would fail to maintain the cars they would get low on oil and throw a rod. The weak spot that always failed was on the side of the engine where the catalytic converter was located. The hot oil splash on the cat ignited and there you have it. Useless but factual, lol.
        usa1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @T-Mille
        Tesla and Elon Musk are in the spotlight because they keep putting themselves into it. Every Tesla news item, good and bad, is trumpeted from the roof top. Bad news by the media, good news by the media and Tesla.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @usa1
          Well this is how the EV evolution will play out. For decades, EVs have had nearly zero of this attention.
        Dfelix70
        • 1 Year Ago
        @T-Mille
        A Fiero doesn't cost $70k to start. A Fiero isn't touted as the second coming of the car. A Fiero is a piece of crap. A Fiero wasn't just touted as "the safest car ever made". For all those stating that this shouldn't be getting as much attention, when is the last time that your car was hit by ROAD DEBRIS and basically exploded? Crickets? Oh, that's what I thought.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dfelix70
          "the safest car ever made" does NOT EQUAL NEVER will have a failure. Just lower percentage of injuries and fatalities. A high crash rating doesn't mean that the car sustains less damage in a crash... just that the passengers sustain less damage. Hence why "crumple zones" lead to higher rates of cars being "totaled", but are safer for people. For a "safety rating" ... It really doesn't matter that the car caught fire after the collision... it matters that the car was able to contain the fire and warn the driver. No injuries is why the Tesla is a SAFE CAR.
          Lucid Renegade
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dfelix70
          Exploded? Drama Queen.
        snap_understeer_ftw
        • 1 Year Ago
        @T-Mille
        *golf claps*
      Nick
      • 1 Year Ago
      Look forward to a lot more of this as short-sighted people flock to EVs.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nick
        [blocked]
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          Yes, it does happen. It is rare, but debris can strike the tank, and be dragged creating sparks. It HAS happened, and more often than Teslas have caught fire.
          jz78817
          • 1 Year Ago
          Was going to say just this. If it was a normal gas-powered car, a fire after a collision wouldn't even make the *local* news. but, this is what happens when you take a company public and part of your financial fate is decided by "investors" who know absolutely nothing about the products a company makes. The Volt battery fire was a non-issue, and so is this.
        Weapon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nick
        There are 250m cars on the road. Every year over 250k gasoline cars catch on fire. That means every year 1 in 1000 gasoline cars catch on fire. 1 in 20,000 Tesla cars catch on fire, so what?
        EvilTollMan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nick
        Please tell me why we need to stick to gasoline powered vehicles??!! At least Tesla had the effin balls to make a car from the ground up that people actually wanted to buy and enjoy driving. It's been over 100 years on gasoline, I think it's OK now to explore alternatives.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EvilTollMan
          Care to elaborate why EV tech is terrible? Now, I wait for you to list the myths and legends that Fox News has drum up for the past years. If you were to actually list your claims on a thread in Autoblog Green... you will be given the evidence that disproves each item on your list. Remember, there is over 100 years of entrenched interests that have had plenty of time and money to make up lies... and a whole network news program to disseminate this misinformation.
          Nick
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EvilTollMan
          This is precisely what I was saying. Gasoline has to go, but EV is not the answer. It's terrible technology.
      Cameron Huntsucker
      • 1 Year Ago
      This car didn't just "Catch Fire" in normal operation. It had a serious, direct impact that caused major damage and a fire started. The car behaved EXACTLY as it should (warning lights, continued operation to get to safe location, contained fire threat). The driver was safe, got to a safe location, exited the vehicle and called 911. It wasn't until the stupid Kentians (what we call Kent moron people) Fire Dept arrived and (despite their EV emergency training) hosed the car down with water, that the car became engulfed in flames. Water and Lithium don't mix, and the idiot Kent Fire Dept knows that! All of the pictures of the car aflame are after the Fire Dept showed up and did their damage. Leave Tesla alone. They designed a car that worked marvelously. If any criticism, maybe a thicker steel barrier between the ground and the battery packs to prevent further punctures.
      Koenigsegg
      • 1 Year Ago
      No vehicle is impervious to intentional damage, would much rather be in a model s with a battery pack than a ice with a gas tank + the model s is the safes car ever and the greatest car ever made
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        -0.5 for posting anything defending Tesla while using the name "Tesla Fan" on any story about one of them being on fire. *grin*
        polo110
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        lol greatest car ever made
        Ak74
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Koenigsegg
        your screen name says its all troll
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