Calif. FD tests EV post-fire isolation
Modesto firefighters are placing electric vehicles in a large dumpster for a cool-down period after the fire
By Trevor Morgan
The Modesto Bee
MODESTO, Calif. — An electric car fire in Modesto on Monday morning resulted in the Fire Department isolating the vehicle away from the city for three weeks, fire officials said.
Firefighters responded to the call at about 8:15 a.m. and found a red Tesla fully engulfed near the intersection of Carver Road and Roseburg Avenue — near homes and businesses, according to an incident summary.
Crews isolated protected the structures as they worked to extinguish to fire, which couldn’t be handled the way a gasoline-fueled vehicle would be, Deputy Chief Darin Jesberg said.
The initial flames were put down by “traditional firefighting methods,” meaning water hoses, Jesberg said. But the vehicle needed to be loaded into a metal bin and taken out of the city to a secure location because electric vehicles can retain their charge for up to three weeks. During that time frame, they still have the potential to reignite, or even explode, he said.
EV’s have the potential to smolder or arc after a fire, according to Jesberg.
The Fire Department doesn’t have set-in-stone procedure on how to handle EV fires, but Jesberg said MFD is working with other fire departments and EV companies, including Tesla , to develop practices.
After the vehicle’s weeks-long cool-down, a tow company takes it away from the secure location to be specially processed for disposal, Jesberg said. “This is a new process for us. We’re discovering case by case on how to handle these fires.”
No injuries were reported as a result of the fire. The City of Modesto Environment Compliance assisted with mitigated water runoff from the scene.
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