Car “spontaneously” caught fire on Sacramento freeway

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — A Tesla was on fire after the car’s battery compartment “spontaneously” caught fire on the freeway Saturday, the Sacramento Metro Fire District said Twitter.

The Tesla Model S was traveling at “highway speed” when the fire broke out, officials said. Photos shared by the Sacramento Metro Fire District, seen below, show the front of the vehicle badly damaged.

The photos also show how the crews had to lift the car to access the battery compartment.

No injuries were reported in this incident. Authorities shared video, which you can see at the top of this story, showing firefighters working to put out the fire on the shoulder of eastbound Highway 50 and Sunrise Boulevard in Rancho Cordova.

The emergency services used around 6,000 liters of water to extinguish the fire. Officials said they had to use so much water because the Tesla’s battery cells kept burning.

Last summer, crews were called to a Tesla fire at a junkyard in Sacramento. Despite multiple attempts to extinguish the fire, the emergency services finally had to place the vehicle that had crashed three weeks earlier in a small pit filled with water to prevent the battery compartment from flaring up again. The crews used about 4,500 gallons of water on the fire.

When the battery of a Tesla submerged in hurricane flood waters corroded and caught fire in October, Florida firefighters had to use around 1,500 gallons of water to douse the flames. It was one of many electric vehicles that became inoperable after the passage of Hurricane Ian, Nexstar’s WFLA reports.

In November, firefighters in Pennsylvania had to use 12,000 gallons of water to put out a Tesla Model S that caught fire after hitting debris on the roadway, according to Nexstar’s WTAJ.

Sacramento Metro Fire Captain Parker Wilbourn told Nexstar’s KTXL in August that electric vehicle fires pose a greater challenge for firefighters than traditional internal combustion engines that use gasoline.

“If one battery catches fire, it preheats the next battery, the next battery, and the next battery. It causes a fire and it’s a chain reaction from there,” Wilbourn explained.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating a separate Tesla-related incident that closed a portion of a California road and injured 16 people – including eight minors – on Thanksgiving Day. Authorities released video showing a Tesla Model S entering the fast lane on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco before coming to a quick stop. The unexpected delay, which reportedly took place while the vehicle was in fully self-driving mode, caused an eight-car pile-up.

It’s unclear if Saturday’s Tesla fire is under investigation by federal officials.