A fire that erupted inside a Tesla on Interstate 95 in Massachusetts late Thursday took nearly three hours and tens of thousands of gallons of water to put out, according to authorities.
Massachusetts State Police and Wakefield firefighters responded shortly after 10:45 p.m. Thursday to the single-car crash in the northbound lanes of the highway near Exit 59 and found the Tesla wedged into the guardrail in the right breakdown lane, according to a statement from the Wakefield Fire Department.
The 38-year-old driver of the Tesla declined medical attention at the scene of the crash, according to the department.
As the car was being prepared to be removed from the crash scene, the guardrail punctured the undercarriage, causing the lithium-ion batteries in the Tesla to increase in temperature and eventually erupt in flames, the statement said.
Firefighters from Lynnfield, Melrose, Reading and Stoneham were called to help extinguish the fire. Amid stormy weather conditions, crews used “copious amounts of water” to put out the flames, the department noted. A Middleton water tanker assisted as well.
The fire was declared under control and fully extinguished after roughly 2.5 hours. More than 20,000 gallons of water were used, according to the department.
“The crews did a great job, especially in the middle of storm conditions – on a busy highway,” Wakefield Provisional Fire Chief Tom Purcell said in the department’s statement. “All responding mutual aid companies from the surrounding communities that assisted were fantastic and greatly helped the Wakefield Fire Department in controlling the incident.”
A state Department of Fire Services hazmat team responded to the scene, and the Tesla was removed from the scene. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection was also notified, according to the statement.
“As sales of electric and hybrid vehicles increase, the fire service is continuing to modify our tactics to properly respond, protect property and firefighters as well as control these types of fires,” Purcell said.
“Fighting vehicle fires is inherently dangerous. When responding to an electric or hybrid vehicle fire there are additional challenges responding crews must consider,” he added. “Fire companies on the scene of an electrical vehicle fire should expect longer time frames to manage and control EV vehicle fires, ensure that large, continuous, sustainable water supply is established, as well as maintain heightened situational awareness and prepare for secondary fires.”
State Police redirected traffic while the fire was being extinguished, and drivers were diverted to one lane during the ongoing snow storm, the department detailed.
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