Firefighters across the country have had to revise their vehicle fire protocols as more EVs hit the streets. Lithium-ion battery fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish using traditional fire hoses, and many fires take thousands of gallons of water to put out. Burning Teslas get all the attention, but all brands are susceptible. However, Tesla is getting more attention this week: Reports of multiple fires are popping up as floodwaters from Hurricane Ian recede.
NewsNation reported that at least four Teslas had caught fire in the past week. Saltwater and lithium-ion batteries do not mix, as the salt corrodes and can damage sensitive components within the battery or surrounding architecture. Once a fire starts, it’s exceedingly difficult to extinguish because of the extreme heat. And then there's the potential for battery packs to reignite even days after the initial fire.
Tesla’s guidance on fire response for the Model S notes that between 3,000 and 8,000 gallons of water could be needed to extinguish a fire – three to eight times more than a gas vehicle fire. At the same time, the potential to reignite has led some fire departments to fully submerge vehicles in fresh water for a period to prevent the issue.
Tesla fires make news, but any EV exposed to saltwater could experience the same problems. As NewsNation points out, there have been a few high-profile incidents involving battery fires. Most notably, a ship carrying millions of dollars in Porsches and Bentleys went up in flames and sank in the Atlantic after cars carrying lithium-ion batteries caught fire in its cargo hold.