NEAR SEATTLE – A Tesla ( TSLA ) electric car, the company’s Model S, caught fire in Kent and destroyed the vehicle.
Officials said Wednesday that the fire, having began in the vehicle’s battery pack, was difficult for the firefighters in trying to put the flames out.
The fire on Tuesday was caused by a large metallic object that directly hit the Model S on one of the battery pack’s modules, Tesla company spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean said. No one was injured, and the fire was contained to a small section at the front of the vehicle, Shean also said.
Wednesday, after an Internet video showed flames engulfing the engine compartment in the front of the vehicle, shares of Tesla Motors, Inc ( TSLA ) fell more than 6 percent. Tesla had previously lauded this car as the “safest car in America”.
To apply water to the battery, firefighters used a circular saw to cut an access hole in the front section of the car. This was the only way the fire could be extinguished, after dismantling the front end of the Tesla ( TSLA ) Model S.
Trooper Chris Webb of WA State patrol said, that this fire happened as the driver of the Tesla ( TSLA ) was driving south on state route 167 through Kent, a suburb of Seattle. The vehicle became disabled after the driver exited the freeway. The driver said he believed some metal debris on the freeway had collided with his car.
The driver, told authorities that the vehicle caught fire after he had smelled something burning. However, he did not return a phone call seeking comment from him.
It’s not exactly clear from the reports how long the firefighting lasted, but after arriving within just 3 minutes after the first call, crews remained on the scene for 2 and 1/2 hours after the incident.
“This was not a spontaneous event,” Jarvis-Shean said. “Every indication we have at this point is that the fire was a result of the collision and the damage sustained through that.”
Tesla said that, due to the design and construction of the vehicle’s frame, the flames did not spread past the front of the vehicle.
The photos were taken by a reader of Jalopnik.com, an automobile website, along with video of the fire.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have given Tesla ( TSLA ) and its battery system rave reviews and a top crash-test score. Tesla also is tied, according to Consumer Reports Magazine, for the highest auto rating ever recorded.
But concerns in other vehicles have been brought up with lithium-ion batteries.
NHTSA investigators, in 2011, determined that three Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid cars, after crash-testing, were no more risky than conventional gasoline engines.
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