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Officials: Tesla Model S catches fire twice in one day

Firefighters said the car first caught fire after it was taken to get a flat tire fixed, and again hours later at another auto repair shop

By FireRescue1 Staff

LOS GATOS, Calif. — Firefighters responded to calls about the same Tesla Model S catching fire twice in one day.

KTVU reported that the electric vehicle first caught fire 10 minutes after being taken to a repair shop to get a flat tire fixed, according to the Santa Clara County Fire Department.

Hours later, the same vehicle caught fire again after it was towed to another repair shop.

“We spent about five to six hours out there cooling the batteries down, per the manufacturer,” Battalion Chief Mark Schumate said. “We cooled it down to a point where we were comfortable that it was extinguished, the manufacturer was comfortable that it was extinguished based on what we were telling them, had the car towed to this location, and then a little after 10 o’clock this evening, got a call for a vehicle fire at the Dick’s towing lot out here, and here we are to extinguish the fire again.”

Schumate said the fires were caused by the battery inside the vehicle.

“The batteries on these things, from what Tesla engineers have told us, generate heat, so that’s all the result of heat,” he said. “Heat builds up and anything ignitable on the car catches fire, so that’s why we’re here now, just to cool the batteries down to a point where they won’t cause more heat to be generated.”

A Tesla spokesperson said the company is investigating the incident.

“We are glad to hear that everyone is safe,” a company statement said.

Schumate added that battling blazes caused by Tesla vehicles is “fairly new” to firefighters.

“All this is fairly new to us, as far as vehicle fires,” he said. “We’ve got the training, we just don’t have a lot of experience with it yet, so as far as to extinguish it, when is it extinguished vs. when it’s not extinguished. Their engineers are trying to figure out just as well as we are.”