As More Electric Vehicles Hit The Roads, Car Fires Are Expected To Increase

Electric vehicle fires caused by the batteries are particularly feisty and can take hours, rather than minutes to tame, making them unlike any other first responders have had to deal with in the past, and thus, requiring new techniques to extinguish.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

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Recently, a Ford F-150 Lightning caught fire, and the video footage of the burning vehicle went viral online. According to CNBC, the charred carnage of the truck has emphasized increasing concern about electric vehicles and the combustible batteries hidden under their hoods that are known to cause maverick fires. As auto dealers push to sell more electric vehicles, fires like the recently viral Ford F-150 Lightning, are expected to increase.

The particular fire currently causing the alarm occurred at a holding lot in Dearborn, Michigan. The Ford F-150 Lightning was parked close to two other electric vehicles when it caught flame. None of the vehicles had any occupants, so only the trucks themselves were harmed, though the damage was extensive.

The video didn’t show how long the fires burned over the electric vehicles, but it showed flames rising several feet above the pick-ups’ roofs. According to experts, EV fires caused by the batteries in electric vehicles are particularly feisty and can take hours, rather than minutes, to tame. EV fires are unlike any other fire first responders have had to deal with in the past, and they require new techniques to extinguish.

Part of the push for auto dealers to sell more electric vehicles is a recent target the Biden Administration set for 50 percent of new vehicles sold in the United States to be electric by 2030. This goal has cost the auto industry billions of dollars as they work to meet the target. However, first responders who are called when an EV fire occurs have received little to no training on how to handle this type of flame. 

Since electric vehicles are still relatively new, manufacturers are still working out the kinks. Ford recently had to recall 18 newly manufactured vehicles due to a malfunction in the battery. With more electric vehicles on the road every day, the cause for concern of an EV fire occurring from either a malfunctioning battery or a crash is very real.

After first responders arrived on the scene of the F-150 electric vehicle fire, they found they had an incredibly hard time extinguishing the growing flames. “They have to put like a whole f—ing lake on it to put them out,” one officer said, referring to the sheer amount of water the firefighters had used on the fires, which were still burning high. 

The video, which was captured from bodycams from the local police department, shows two hours of footage featuring the responders doing their best to put out the flames. The same responder explains in another part of the clip how the fire started with only one electric vehicle, but the flames quickly caught on to the two trucks nearby, spreading into a wildfire. Footage showing the aftermath of the fire showcases three completely destroyed trucks, one of which is almost completely melted to the ground.

Ford says that they have determined the root cause of the fire and have implemented quality control actions to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to their other electric vehicles, but the cause for concern is still on the rise. EV fires are not like any other fire, and while training first responders can help, it may not be enough. However, despite the growing cause for concern, first responders say that their top priority still remains to make sure that all passengers make it out alive whenever an electric vehicle fire occurs.