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Ala. FFs use 36,000 gallons of water on Tesla fire

Firefighters from six departments worked to extinguish a burning Tesla on I-65 in Autauga County

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Pine Level firefighters were dispatched at 11:14 p.m. Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, to a traffic crash with a reported vehicle fire.

Carol Robinson/Carol Robinson

By Carol Robinson
al.com

AUTAUA COUNTY, Ala. — A Tesla crashed and burst into flames on Christmas night in Autauga County northwest of Montgomery.

Authorities said battling the blaze required more than 36,000 gallons of water.

“This was a first for Autauga County,’’ the Pine Level Fire Department posted on Facebook. “Electric vehicle fires are unusual and present unique challenges and dangers to firefighters.”

“These vehicles can reignite hours or days after they are first extinguished.”

Firefighters across the country, according to The Wall Street Journal, have been learning to contend with the unique challenges presented by electric vehicle fires. For instance, firefighters in Franklin, Tenn., recently reported using 45,000 gallons of water over several hours when battling a burning Nissan Leaf.

In Autauga County, Pine Level firefighters were dispatched at 11:14 p.m. Monday to a traffic crash with a reported vehicle fire. Firefighters arrived to find a Tesla Model Y on fire, and troopers shut down that portion of Interstate 65.

Two hose lines were deployed, and it took more than an hour to get the fire under control. A total of three engines, two rescues, one ambulance, four water tankers, one squad, one brush truck and three command vehicles responded to the fire.

Marbury, Booth, Independence, White City, Old Kingston and Verbena fire departments responded, along with Haynes Ambulance, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Haynes Ambulance, Autauga County EMA, the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities said a Tesla burns at temperatures exceeding 2,500 degrees C. The smoke from burning electric cars produces hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride gases - both of which are toxic to breathe and requires firefighters to wear breathing apparatus.

The driver, authorities said, escaped the blaze unharmed and was taken into custody by ALEA.

ALEA didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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