Electric-vehicle fires have burned down homes after Hurricane Ian saltwater damage. Florida officials want answers

Electric-vehicle fires have burned down homes after Hurricane Ian saltwater damage. Florida officials want answers

It seems counterintuitive, but electric powered motor vehicles that have been flooded with saltwater can capture fireplace. That’s tested to be a problem in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which flooded components of the point out past month. 

Now, Florida officials are searching for responses. This week, U.S. Senator Rick Scott wrote about the issue to the Department of Transportation and electrical-car makers. In a letter addressed to transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, Scott wrote:

In addition to the damage caused by the storm alone, the saltwater flooding in various coastal regions has experienced further destructive effects in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian by causing the lithium ion batteries in flooded electric powered motor vehicles (EVs) to spontaneously combust and capture hearth. This emerging risk has compelled regional hearth departments to divert means away from hurricane restoration to handle and incorporate these risky fires. Automobile fires from electrical automobiles have tested to be really hazardous and previous for a extended time period, having in numerous situations up to six hrs to burn up out. Alarmingly, even just after the car fires have been extinguished, they can reignite in an quick. Regrettably, some Florida households which survived Hurricane Ian, have now been lost to fires prompted by flooded EVs. 

Scott requested Buttigieg what direction his section has provided—or questioned EV makers to provide—to people, as properly as what protocols it’s produced for the carmakers on their own.

Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s main financial officer and state hearth marshal, also weighed in on the difficulty. Last 7 days, he wrote to Jack Danielson, government director Countrywide Highway Website traffic Protection Administration, inquiring for “immediate guidance” and noting, “In my practical experience, Southwest Florida has a substantial variety of EVs in use, and if those people EVs were being left driving, exposed to storm surge, and sitting down in garages, there is a danger of fires.”

He famous that, based mostly on his study, “much of the direction on submerged autos does not handle particular dangers linked with exposure of EVs to saltwater.” He included that previously this thirty day period, “I joined North Collier Fire Rescue…and observed with my own eyes an EV continuously ignite, and continuously reignite, as fireteams doused the car with tens-of-countless numbers of gallons of h2o.”

He also warned that “EVs may be a ticking time bomb.”

On Twitter, Patronis shared a online video of firefighters hoping extinguish a burning Tesla. He wrote in the tweet, “There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian. As those batteries corrode, fires start out. That’s a new problem that our firefighters have not confronted just before. At the very least on this type of scale.”

In a reply to Patronis, Danielson wrote:

Examination final results particular to saltwater submersion clearly show that salt bridges can kind inside the battery pack and provide a path for short circuit and self-heating. This can guide to fireplace ignition. As with other types of battery degradation, the time interval for this changeover from self-heating to fire ignition can vary enormously.

He additional:

It may be handy for persons who are not involved in instant lifesaving missions to determine flooded cars with lithium-ion batteries and move them at least 50 feet from any buildings, vehicles, or combustibles.

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