A parked Tesla Model 3 in California recently caught fire with no passengers inside. Many would-be aware of the accident that left the Model 3 totaled. The owner of the EV lost the car, and many belongings were also destroyed in the harrowing incident.
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What Happened With The Model 3?
Ediel Ruiz was going on vacation to see his partner, Edith Parker’s relatives after graduating from USC recently. Ruiz was confused when he got a notification on his phone informing him about the car alarm going off.
When Ruiz came out to check on his car he was shocked to see smoke around the car and opened the back door of his Model 3. Flames started flaring out of the rear door, and he witnessed his four-month-old car seat melt first due to the flames.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how to react, I mean it just kind of happened. We had that, the stroller, some formula in there, she had just graduated from USC the day prior. All her graduation stuff completely burned up,” said Ediel Ruiz.
He further goes on to explain, the ordeal of the incident feeling lucky that he was not on road with his partner when it all happened. They were celebrating graduation with this trip, and the backseat of the car was full of his partner’s graduation possessions. However, they lost the graduation stuff among other things, to fire.
We were going to go to Bakersfield to go eat at Texas Roadhouse. For whatever reason, her grandparents canceled, and we didn’t go. Luckily, it didn’t happen while we were driving,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz did not waste any time calling 911 and California City Fire Department, and they quickly arrived on the scene to douse the fire.
WATCH: Ediel Ruiz and his partner were visiting family in California City on Saturday when his Tesla caught fire. Ruiz says the fire started directly under his four-month-old’s car seat. No one was in the car, he says.
— Savannah Welch (@svnnh_wlch) May 19, 2022
The incident took place on Saturday, May 14, 2022, but Ruiz was not able to contact Tesla for getting roadside assistance. He had taken the in-house Tesla insurance of his Model 3 EV.
Ruiz said that he was able to speak to Tesla on Monday and Tesla Roadside Assistance sent a guy to pick up the car not knowing the amount of damage.
‘I’m not prepared or equipped to remove this, I can’t drive this down the freeway or the ash will go everywhere,” said the Tesla road-side assistance representative.
The representative denied moving the EV, as he said he did not have the suitable equipment to shift the burned car from its place.
This incident is not alone but is very rare as compared to other fire break-outs that occurred earlier. The owner of the car informed that the fire appeared to have started below the car seat of his toddler. However, there is still a relief that the fire incident did not happen while on the move.
Ruiz says they had plans to go to Bakersfield later that day for dinner. They are glad that the plans to go out were canceled at the last minute by his partner’s grandparents. Had they been on road, the fire could have caused a lot more damage than just their belongings and documents.
What Fire Department Said On The Fire
California Fire Department arrived on the incident scene minutes after Ruiz’s call. They successfully got control of the fire of the Model 3, but the car was burned completely by then.
Robert Swaim, the founder of HowItBroke.com shed some light on how the EV fires are controlled. He said the electric vehicle fires are hard to fight as the batteries are located on the floor between the wheels.
Gasoline cars require pouring water on top of the vehicle to extinguish the fire flames. However, EVs require to get cooled down from the bottom side of the vehicle. The different mechanism to extinguish the fire on electric cars makes it harder to fight the fire.
David ORR, Fire Department Public Information Officer of California says it is an infrequent sight to see electric vehicles on fire, but the department is specially trained to do so.
“When we suppress the fire and think we have it out, we usually use our thermal imager camera to maintain to see if we can see if the vehicle is cooling down properly within the battery, so we don’t have that thermal runaway,” Orr added.
Andrew Freeborn, Fire Department Public Information Officer of Kern County, also added that there are rare such cases in the county and also mentioned that they take all incidents very cautiously.
“Right now, electric vehicles are still a minority of what’s on our highways. But we still have to take all the incidents that we’re on very cautiously. We look at the different training programs that we have within our department that help us identify electric vehicles and understand how we can safely extinguish them,” said Freeborn.
The California Model 3 fire incident is not alone and should draw the attention of automotive makers and electric car owners. Electric cars are also prone to various challenges, and there is still a lot more to be done to reach to safer EV future.
Ruiz is currently using a rental and would not be getting a new car before October later this year. However, the incident does not stop him to encourage others to opt for electric vehicles. Experts say fire incidents can happen with any automotive, gasoline, or electric. Tesla is not alone in taking the heat, other automotive companies, like Kia and Chevrolet, have also seen similar fire accidents.
California incident and other EV fire mishaps should be taken as warning signs people should be looking out for. Any unusual sounds like whistling or whooshing could be a sign. Moreover, keep an eye on overheating or gas escapes from the battery while driving any vehicle.