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Firefighters have to blast 40 times more water at burning Tesla than other cars

Story at a glance

  • Firefighters used 40 times the amount of water normally needed to contain a fire of a gas-powered vehicle putting out a fire when a Tesla crashed.
  • Authorities said the lithium battery cells powering the Tesla Model X can cause fires long after a crash.
  • Fire Chief Palmer Buck told the outlet there is no blueprint for putting out fires involving electric vehicles.

Firefighters needed 40 times the amount of water normally used to contain a fire of a gas-powered vehicle when attempting to extinguish a blaze when a Tesla crashed. 

“Normally a car fire you can put out with 500 to 1,000 gallons of water,” Austin Fire Department Division Chief Thayer Smith said, according The Independent. “But Teslas may take up to 30,000-40,000 gallons of water, maybe even more, to extinguish the battery pack once it starts burning and that was the case here.”

Video footage obtained by Fox 7 shows a driver of the electric vehicle slamming into gas tanks at a station in Tarrytown. Authorities said the lithium battery cells powering the Tesla Model X can cause fires long after a crash — a situation Division Chief Eddie Martinez told Fox 7 the department was prepared to address. 


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“We’ve known about these for quite a while. It’s just, in the City of Austin, as far as I know, this is our first one, specifically with a Tesla,” he said.

“And it did, so five hours later the car caught on fire again. But he took our warning and he put it away from vegetation and put it away from other vehicles, so it didn’t catch anything else on fire,” Martinez added. 

A vehicle safety report on Tesla’s website maintains its electric vehicles “are engineered to be the safest cars in the world.”


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Woodlands Fire Chief Palmer Buck told Fox 7 there is no blueprint for putting out fires involving electric vehicles. 

“There is not any, at this point, any easily obtainable extinguishing agent on the market to deal with these fires. It all goes back to the way the cars are engineered with the battery pack being at the bottom of the car, and encased in a titanium shell, so you really can’t gain access to it, you just have to sit back and pour water on it,” Buck said.


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