Fire Departments Grapple With EV-Related Fires

Feb. 7, 2023

Firefighters across the United States have seen an increase in EV-related fires, and have reported needing more time, water, and caution to handle them.

Feb; 7, 2023–Fire Departments across the United States have been struggling with containing fires related to “Teslas and other electric vehicles,” Fox Business reports.

“It can take four to five hours to extinguish a battery fire,” said Lt. Robert Muylaert of Shelby Township Fire in Michigan. “And after that, once it gets to a tow yard, they have had those fires reignite–even two to three days afterward.”

Muylaert told Fox2 Detroit that once these vehicles catch on fire, a “thermal runaway” occurs: one battery will generate enough fire to reach batteries around it.

Captain Parker Wilbourn of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District in California witnessed such an incident only a week prior when a Tesla caught fire on Highway 50 near Sunrise Boulevard.

“That fire just continued to grow and ended up actually burning through the hood,” he recounted to ABC 10.

Wilbourn said his department’s jurisdiction has seen 3 EV-related fires, “and all of them have taken thousands of gallons of water to extinguish,” while internal combustion engines are “generally” able to be extinguished with a 700-gallon water tank on any of the department’s fire engines. 

“Electricity and water do not mix,” said Fire Engineer Matt Halleck, a training officer in Hillsdale, Michigan. “As a firefighter, it's one of our worst nightmares.” 

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Ratchet+Wrench Staff Reporters

The Ratchet+Wrench staff reporters have a combined two-plus decades of journalism and mechanical repair experience.

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