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

It sounds counterintuitive, but electric motor vehicles that have been flooded with saltwater can capture fire. That is tested to be a trouble in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which flooded components of the point out final thirty day period. 

Now, Florida officers are searching for answers. This week, U.S. Senator Rick Scott wrote about the challenge to the Department of Transportation and electric powered-automobile makers. In a letter dealt with to transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, Scott wrote:

In addition to the problems brought about by the storm alone, the saltwater flooding in quite a few coastal places has had further more harmful penalties in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian by resulting in the lithium ion batteries in flooded electric autos (EVs) to spontaneously combust and capture hearth. This emerging menace has compelled area fire departments to divert resources absent from hurricane recovery to control and comprise these perilous fires. Automobile fires from electric powered automobiles have tested to be exceptionally harmful and final for a extended interval, having in numerous instances up to six hrs to burn off out. Alarmingly, even soon after the automobile fires have been extinguished, they can reignite in an prompt. Unfortunately, some Florida homes which survived Hurricane Ian, have now been shed to fires induced by flooded EVs. 

Scott requested Buttigieg what advice his office has provided—or requested EV makers to provide—to people, as effectively as what protocols it is produced for the carmakers on their own.

Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s main fiscal officer and condition hearth marshal, also weighed in on the concern. Last week, he wrote to Jack Danielson, govt director Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration, inquiring for “immediate guidance” and noting, “In my practical experience, Southwest Florida has a sizeable range of EVs in use, and if people EVs had been still left powering, uncovered to storm surge, and sitting down in garages, there is a danger of fires.”

He observed that, based on his exploration, “much of the steerage on submerged cars does not deal with particular threats affiliated with exposure of EVs to saltwater.” He included that before this month, “I joined North Collier Hearth Rescue…and observed with my have eyes an EV constantly ignite, and continually reignite, as fireteams doused the motor vehicle with tens-of-hundreds of gallons of water.”

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

On Twitter, Patronis shared a video of firefighters striving extinguish a burning Tesla. He wrote in the tweet, “There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian. As individuals batteries corrode, fires commence. That’s a new obstacle that our firefighters haven’t confronted just before. At least on this type of scale.”

In a reply to Patronis, Danielson wrote:

Exam benefits precise to saltwater submersion show that salt bridges can sort inside the battery pack and deliver a path for quick circuit and self-heating. This can lead to fireplace ignition. As with other varieties of battery degradation, the time period for this changeover from self-heating to fireplace ignition can fluctuate significantly.

He added:

It might be valuable for folks who are not included in immediate lifesaving missions to establish flooded motor vehicles with lithium-ion batteries and go them at minimum 50 toes from any structures, motor vehicles, or combustibles.

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