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Model S fire?

Appears to have been in an accident. Wonder what caught fire. Something flammable in the frunk?

Clearly the car went through serious crash, large object on the ground or whatever. A big crash can only explain the significant damage to the front.

Pretty sure the damage to the front was done by the fire dept try to put out the fire and not a front end collision. As many reports claim the driver smelled something burning and pulled off the highway, driver also thought he ran over something on the highway, not slammed into something.

Firefighters confirm battery on fire. Sad news.

Of course the battery was on fire, doesn't mean the battery caused the fire.

Doesn't sound like the battery but rather, the auxiliary 12v battery (they said the front of the car). Time will tell. For now, put away the tinfoil hats and enjoy your cars. As for me, I have to wait until Dec for mine.

The Washington State fire fighters claim that the batteries caught fire, and they had to turn the car on it's side to remove the battery pack. This is obvious a lie, made up by those people who have sold Tesla stock short. This is the world's greatest car ever built.
Tomorrow morning I am mortgaging my home and buying all the Tesla stock I can get my hands on. The is the greatest car and car company in the world, go Tesla, go Tesla.

@coli1951...where is the link to the story of the Washington State fire fighter's claim???

Ok that pics looks pretty freaking good for a car fire! I've seen way worse in ICEs.


The previous story was updated, so follow the same link.

It doesn't actually add all that much info other than how the firefighters put out the fire (which, once started would obviously spread to the rest of the car regardless of where or how it started).

We'll just have to wait until they complete their investigation to learn the cause.

To bad we can't get Matlock on the case!

From the ibtimes link provided by GDH:

"E71 found a medium sized sedan that appeared to have an engine compartment fire. [...] E71 found what appeared to be a battery pack in the front end of the vehicle that continued to burn. [...] E71 discovered that there was no access to the battery from the undercarriage. E71 then used a circular saw to cut an access hole into front structural member to apply water to the battery pack. E71 completely extinguished the fire."

It seems pretty clear that the "battery pack" they keep referring to is the 12V lead-acid battery in the front, common to conventional cars. The main lithium ion battery pack does not extend to the "frontal structural member", as seen in the below picture of the chassis and battery.

The media is doing a very poor job investigating before posting news on this. The lithium ion battery was NOT the battery that caught on fire.

180,000 vehicle fires in the US each year. 1x Tesla burns and its stock "plummets" 6 percent.

For those of us that invested in this exceptional company at $27 I say, "Meh."

Well, really, the media is not quite on top of the details like we are. But the front 12V batt sounds right. There was a comment that water seemed to increase the fire and then they used chem fire retardant. And then cut into the battery. I'll look for the ref if nobody else saw it. They want to conclude that the lithium was hit by water and fired up. My problem with that is the multiple separate little AA like cells. I suppose one or a few might have been damaged and ripped open, but could the fire kick open more cells, considering the liquid cooling and the the retardant goop used to assemble the pack? This will be interesting, I hope we can actually get the facts.

Coll you are right. Pick the dip: 150? nah 162 worst.

Must have hit something that was flammable?

What time was the fire? Was it today 10/2? Because I was in my Blue Tesla S along side another Blue Tesla S this afternoon 10/2 and we were waving at each other on Hwy 18 going toward and near 167. I then went into a store and then north on 167. I am wondering!

Kelly TX

Great post, thanks for the specifics.

They operative question is whether the battery was the fuel for the fire or not.

We'll find out in the next few days, but I think the battery was not the source of the flames.

I like Kelly TX intelligent analysis.

If you look in front of the car, there is fluid on the ground that is on fire. That is most likely brake fluid. (You can't really "juice" the electrolyte out of those individual steel-skinned cells into a pool like that).

The impact likely ripped into the brake lines / reservoir and spilled fluid. Either sparks from dragging the object, or a severed electrical line provided the ignition source.

This kind of damage to a gas car would likely have spread to the fuel lines and the whole car would have gone up in flames.

My guess is the forensic analysis will show that the Model S battery was not the fuel for the fure, and the car performed quite well relative to gas cars subjected to the same kind of hit, We'll see.

When the dust settles, I think it will be even more clear that the Model S is the safest car made..

I wonder...did Jaguar's stock behave similarly when Dick Van Dyke's XJ spontaneously (not because he hit something) caught fire and burned to a crisp, almost taking him out with it?

I will wait until we know for a fact what happened with the Model S before I alter my opinion of either the company or the vehicle. To do otherwise seems unreasonable.

I like eepic 's analysis. seems convincing.
If that's true, then the accident would be a ad for Tesla in the long run, supporting that the battery module are very safe even a fire has already started somewhere else. Hope people and media will look more into detail, not just panic over the word "Tesla“ and "Fire".

Lord, I'm not looking forward to dealing with the fallout from this one. It's bad enough that I still have to debate moronic soccer moms about the Broder range issue every weekend. I'm sure "how can you put your kids in that firetrap?" will be the new theme...

@defmonk borrow my argument, used on actual soccer parents: the Model S has far better range than any gas car. While model s can recharge for free for life, gas cars at best reach 500 miles before they die, unless one makes a $100 payment at the fill station for continued operation.

It looks like the fluid used to cool the battery pack may have leaked out and caught fire. Does anyone know if that fluid is flammable, and if there is some other battery coolant fluid that is inflammable?

The battery coolant is nonflammable. It is similar to automotive coolant. Brake Fluid, on the other hand, is flammable.

The coolant is not flammable.

Tesla has now given an official statement, and was able to confirm that one section of the battery did catch fire. So what we saw in the video was indeed combustion from cells (bummer !).

Still, the fire propagated slower than if that debris had punctured a gas tank instead of the battery pack, and the driver was able to walk away safely.

Notwithstanding the damage to the pack, the car seemed to perform better than its gas counterpart would.

We need to learn more how the limited chain reaction was even possible, given Tesla's pack architecture.

Ironically because of its success and greater numbers, such perfect storm cases will occur.

Still in my view safer than any gas car.

List of substances that could have fueled the fire - opinions?
1. Lead Acid Battery 12 V - I do not think there is enough energy there to feed the fire. Could have started the fire in impact.
2. Li-ion batteries - Could have started the fire, but the whole pack would be consumed. Spread underneath. Fire would intense of the kind seen when there is electrical discharge, metal burning. Like a transformer burning.
3. Brake fluid - There is not enough brake fluid in the car to cause this kind of fire. They can be based on glycol-ether (usually not flammable, unless hi alcohol content was used), silicon (not flammable), mineral oil (could be flammable?).
4. Battery coolant - It is a mystery what Tesla uses. I am thinking something like glycol+water. They may have used hi ethanol (70%) and glycol so it would not freeze during very cold winters. That could light up and cause this kind of fire including burning on the ground. Tesla could remedy this and come up with another mix. Would have to be tested extensively for heat transfer properties, temperature stability, boiling/freezing properties, corrosion. Expensive.
5. Al burning - Not likely at these temps and the burning is different. Flame is very bright.
6. Flammable fluid in the frunk? Object in the road had flammable fluid?

On average, 17 automobile fires were reported per hour in the US.

National Fire Protection Association

Refreshing to see this Forbes reporter keep a level head:

Yes cars do catch fire, and often they do. About 200,000 incidents are reported in US each year. And I have to think gasoline is much more dangerous than Lithium when that happens.

Think about the typical car with 10-20 gallons of gasoline, stored in a garage with a gas water heater. All you need is a small fuel leak. Kinda puts it in perspective.

i have idea for a new option: a big tesla T fire extinguisher! guess the boys at tesla cant walk on water

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