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Tesla Model S on Fire, caught on tape (Updated with details, statement)

A Tesla Model S caught fire off of Washington State Route 167 outside of Seattle (Google Maps). This is kind of weird because there isn’t much flammable except some plastic in the front of the Tesla Model S.  The ‘Frunk’ is an empty space where you can put (potentially flammable) cargo.  There’s some plastic up front but nothing that would immediately seem to burn like that.  The tires could (And eventually did) burn but again, nothing like what this video would appear to showing.

Here’s a picture of the event from an active forum at Tesla Motor Club:


The batteries, which would be flammable, are located beneath the car between the wheels which don’t seem to be affected. There is a 12V battery up front (just like any other car) but again not something that would catch fire like this.

Update: Tesla has said that the crash was caused when the Model S hit a metal object

“Yesterday, a Model S collided with a large metallic object in the middle of the road, causing significant damage to the vehicle. The car’s alert system signaled a problem and instructed the driver to pull over safely, which he did. No one was injured, and the sole occupant had sufficient time to exit the vehicle safely and call the authorities. Subsequently, a fire caused by the substantial damage sustained during the collision was contained to the front of the vehicle thanks to the design and construction of the vehicle and battery pack. All indications are that the fire never entered the interior cabin of the car. It was extinguished on-site by the fire department.”

I would expect a post mortem on this in the coming days. The TSLA stock price is tumbling.

Update 2: The AP has more details from the Incident report:

In an incident report released under Washington state’s public records law, firefighters wrote that they appeared to have Tuesday’s fire under control, but the flames reignited. Crews found that water seemed to intensify the fire, so they began using a dry chemical extinguisher.

After dismantling the front end of the vehicle and puncturing holes in the battery pack, responders used a circular saw to cut an access hole in the front section to apply water to the battery, according to documents. Only then was the fire extinguished.

The incident happened as the Tesla’s driver was traveling southbound on state Route 167 through the Seattle suburb of Kent, said Trooper Chris Webb of the Washington State Patrol. The driver said he believed he had struck some metal debris on the freeway, so he exited the highway and the vehicle became disabled.

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Avatar for Seth Weintraub Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites. Tesla Model 3, X and Chevy Bolt owner…5 ebikes and counting