A Tesla Model S caught on fire in Los Angeles without being involved in an accident. Tesla cars are famous for being all electric vehicles which get their power stored in battery packs which line the floor of the vehicle. Although electric vehicles have caught on fire before, but those few incidents were the results after a high speed impact. Gasoline-powered cars have also caught on fire without a collision.
"This is an extraordinarily unusual occurrence," a Tesla spokesperson wrote in an e-mail. "And we are investigating the incident to find out what happened. Our initial investigation shows that the cabin of the vehicle was totally unaffected by the fire due to our battery architecture, which is designed to protect the cabin in the very rare event that a battery fire occurs." Tesla cars are 10 times less likely to catch fire than gasoline-fueled cars, said Tesla while citing data from the National Fire Protection Association and US Federal Highway Administration. The Lithium-ion batteries, which Tesla cars use, also ignite more slowly and burn in a more controlled way than gasoline. However, battery fires are also harder to put out and require special treatment by fire fighters. Tesla and other electric vehicle manufacturers are training first responders on how to deal with crashes and fires involving electric cars.
The result of the battery fire in Los Angeles has resulted in an investigator dispatched from the National Transportation Safety Board. The technical specialist is to watch Tesla's examination of the Model S. The action is not a formal probe. The participation of the agency "will provide the agency with an opportunity to learn more about fires in all types of battery-powered vehicles." The Model S was being driven by the husband of actress Mary McCormack. Along with the video she posted of the car stopped at the side of road with flames and smoke coming from underneath it, she wrote "This is what happened to my husband and his car today. No accident, out of the blue, in traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. Thank you to the kind couple who flagged him down and told him to pull over. And thank god my three little girls weren't in the car with him." Her husband was completely unaware of the fire under his car until passing motorists flagged him down.