November 29, 2022

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Electric-vehicle fires have burned down homes after Hurricane Ian saltwater damage. Florida officials want answers

It appears counterintuitive, but electric cars that have been flooded with saltwater can catch hearth. Which is established to be a dilemma in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which flooded elements of the point out final thirty day period. 

Now, Florida officers are looking for answers. This week, U.S. Senator Rick Scott wrote about the concern to the Division of Transportation and electric powered-auto makers. In a letter resolved to transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, Scott wrote:

In addition to the hurt prompted by the storm itself, the saltwater flooding in quite a few coastal parts has had more destructive penalties in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian by resulting in the lithium ion batteries in flooded electrical automobiles (EVs) to spontaneously combust and capture hearth. This emerging danger has pressured neighborhood fire departments to divert means away from hurricane recovery to command and contain these risky fires. Motor vehicle fires from electric cars have tested to be incredibly risky and past for a prolonged period, getting in a lot of situations up to 6 hrs to melt away out. Alarmingly, even after the car fires have been extinguished, they can reignite in an fast. Unfortunately, some Florida houses which survived Hurricane Ian, have now been lost to fires prompted by flooded EVs. 

Scott questioned Buttigieg what steering his department has provided—or requested EV makers to provide—to individuals, as very well as what protocols it’s designed for the carmakers on their own.

Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief economical officer and point out hearth marshal, also weighed in on the problem. Last 7 days, he wrote to Jack Danielson, govt director National Freeway Targeted traffic Basic safety Administration, inquiring for “immediate guidance” and noting, “In my encounter, Southwest Florida has a important quantity of EVs in use, and if all those EVs had been remaining driving, uncovered to storm surge, and sitting in garages, there is a risk of fires.”

He pointed out that, based mostly on his analysis, “much of the steerage on submerged motor vehicles does not deal with unique dangers affiliated with publicity of EVs to saltwater.” He additional that before this month, “I joined North Collier Fireplace Rescue…and noticed with my have eyes an EV continuously ignite, and continuously reignite, as fireteams doused the motor vehicle with tens-of-thousands of gallons of water.”

He also warned that “EVs may be a ticking time bomb.”

On Twitter, Patronis shared a video clip of firefighters attempting extinguish a burning Tesla. He wrote in the tweet, “There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian. As individuals batteries corrode, fires get started. Which is a new challenge that our firefighters have not confronted ahead of. At minimum on this variety of scale.”

In a reply to Patronis, Danielson wrote:

Test effects distinct to saltwater submersion demonstrate that salt bridges can form inside of the battery pack and deliver a route for quick circuit and self-heating. This can guide to fire ignition. As with other types of battery degradation, the time time period for this changeover from self-heating to hearth ignition can differ tremendously.

He additional:

It may possibly be handy for persons who are not involved in instant lifesaving missions to determine flooded vehicles with lithium-ion batteries and shift them at least 50 feet from any constructions, cars, or combustibles.

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