Tesla Model S Catches Fire In Toronto Garage – EV Was Not Plugged In

10 months ago by Jay Cole 56

Model S Fire Toronto - Image Credit Business Insider

Model S Fire Toronto – Image Credit Business Insider

Just in time for next week’s quarterly update from Tesla, we unfortunately have to pass on a report that a Model S fire occured in Toronto, Canada on the 1st of February.

Two Residental Fires Have Occurred In The Last 3 Months Involving The Tesla Model S

Two Residental Fires Have Occurred In The Last 3 Months Involving The Tesla Model S

This particular fire is the second to occur in a residential garage, but unlike a previous fire in which the car was plugged in (that earlier fire set off a NHSTA “recall” of some Tesla charging equipment), this 4 month old Canadian Model S was reportedly not plugged in.

The Business Insider reports that the fire occurred after the owner had his car out for a spin then left the car parked in his garage beside a Lexus.

A few moments later he was alerted to fire when his fire detector when off.   The fire was reportedly “intense” but the firefighters got it under control quickly.

If there is a “good news” portion of this story is that the battery itself was not the cause of the fire as it was not damaged in blaze.

Tesla confirmed the incident and responded to the event to the Insider, although they did sent seven employees to the residence indicating their concern over the matter, and also offered to pay for both the “damages and inconvenience caused by the fire,” of which the owner declined.

“Dealing with occasional fires is something that every car company has to do, as no vehicle is completely fireproof under all circumstances. What matters is the number of such incidents per car, and it is worth noting that gasoline car companies experience an average of five to ten times more fires per car than Tesla. Also extremely important is the fact that there has never been a serious injury or death in a Model S as a result of a fire or any other cause. The Model S continues to have the best safety track record of any vehicle in the world. In this particular case, we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire.”

Overall this is the fifth fire incident reported involving a Tesla in the past five months, the first three were all caused by excessive “on road” damage.  Two of which happened in the United States (here and here) & the other in Mexico (here).  One of the earlier US fires is still under an open investigation by the NHTSA.

We of course will update the story as more information is learned.

Check out more images and the original report at the Business Insider.

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56 responses to "Tesla Model S Catches Fire In Toronto Garage – EV Was Not Plugged In"

  1. David Murray says:

    not good news for Tesla. I had hoped the fires were behind them…

    1. Mint says:

      It’s interesting that the battery wasn’t involved this time. Faulty wiring maybe?

    2. MrEnergyCzar says:

      Maybe the owner was an oil executive…

      MrEnergyCzar

      1. kdawg says:

        Uh oh, now you’re getting all conspiracy-like :)

        (Wow this story has been out for 12hours now and we haven’t heard a peep from CherylG. This is like blood in the water for her.)

      2. Jouni Valkonen says:

        not likely, imagine the headlines: “Oil executive drives with electric car!” And the price of oil will plummet like Tesla’s stock in October.

  2. Kevin says:

    Road debris? Improperly discarded cigarette?
    Lots of possibilities
    Mechanical failure unrelated to the EV systems?

    1. Anon says:

      It could very well be a heated garage that caught fire, that also happened to have a Tesla parked in it. *shrugs* We don’t and won’t know until the results of the investigation are released.

  3. ffbj says:

    Odd. It seems they are all looking down near the left front of the vehicle. Also there is some material pinkish in color, like pink insulation foam board, that looks like it was hacked off the wall, probably because it was near the fire. Also the owner did not want Tesla to pay for the damage. This could indicate a number of things. Some people will automatically take nothing as it could be thought of as compensation, though there are other possibilities. For instance maybe something the driver did, or forgot to do caused the fire, or the likelihood of a fire to occur. There are also some wires dangling down the wall, so maybe it was electrical but unrelated to the vehicle. maybe regenerative brakes overheated and then caught some oil/gas
    on the floor to ignite.
    A puzzler.

    1. Foo says:

      Oh boy… There is no such thing as “regenerative brakes”. They aren’t “a thing”. In all EVs, not just the Model S, “regenerative braking” is a function *of the drivetrain*, not any kind of “brake”.

      The principle is this: The electric motor in an EV will act as an electric generator when the input electrical current is removed (or reduced), thus causing the motor to be “driven” by the wheels as inertia continues to move the car forward. But, this of course creates kinetic resistance which slows the car.

      (In case you didn’t know, an electric motor and electric generator are exactly the same device. When electricity is applied, motion is produced. When motion is applied, electricity is produced.)

    2. Rob says:

      Of course he did not want to be paid by Tesla. That could result in lots of problems with his home insurer – you cannot get paid twice for one damage. It is also unclear if Tesla was willing to cover damages to the car or both car and house.

      1. lewl says:

        Why claim on your house insurance and deal with increased rates, if someone else is offering to pay for it? You just get it fixed out of pocket, paid by Tesla. Insurance doesn’t get involved at all (well, at least not YOUR insurance, Tesla might be paying through a policy of theirs, if applicable)

        The only thing I could guess from that is the owner knows the car was not at fault and is actually being honest in not taking Tesla’s money for something that’s not their fault.

  4. Jordan says:

    Isn’t it just a little odd that the owner declined Tesla’s offer to pay for damages, the car seems fine but the garage is completely destroyed? This whole story sounds extremely odd.

    1. Gibber says:

      You decline to allow Tesla to pay for the damages that way you can still sue them in court.

  5. DonH says:

    More importantly, why is there major news coverage every time Tesla is involved? Since the last fire there have been how many ICE fires? Where is that report? How many deaths and injured? Yeah, still waiting for Fox to cover that one. Wake up America.

  6. Bloggin says:

    It does sound like it was something the owner did to cause the fire that had nothing to do with the car itself. Since it’s cold Canada, and an old garage, there may have been a heater running to keep the car from freezing that caught fire and damaged the car and his garage.

  7. EVfam says:

    how can you get model s cause fire from that pic?

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      How can you get Model S causes fire from the article? It’s called journalism.

  8. ffbj says:

    There are around five separate photos, all from the same general location. The rear of the vehicle. Your never get a clear look at what they are looking at., or nearer the front of the vehicle. Notice that one of the people in the above photo, in the blue sweater, probably the owner, so why then, no pictures closer? Other photos show lots of debris and the blackened rear wall of the garage.

  9. David says:

    Wow. How are they gonna sweep this one under the rug.

    1. Anon says:

      Depends how actually it started. There very well could be nothing to sweep. Lets see what the official fire investigstion concludes before making snap judgements, k?

    2. Tesla Motors says:

      With the facts? Simple…. But not simple at all. Because any person that solely reads news articles for news is brainwashed so they’ll believe what it says right away regardless of anything else even if the facts are addressed they still wont believe them LOL so sad. Humans are an odd bunch.

  10. Driverguy01 says:

    Must be a heated garage cause the car’s window is down.

  11. Taser54 says:

    Too early to reach a conclusion. Wait for the publication of the independent fire investigator report.

  12. Ed says:

    Since the fire was not caused by the battery, then it has to be the Lexus next to it.

  13. lzl says:

    The owner actually declined any payment from Tesla…..hats off to you sir…

  14. Bill Howland says:

    Story smells really fishy as others have mentioned. I especially liked the part where Tesla is basically unconcerned but sent SEVEN people to his house. If you’re trying to intimidate someone isn’t THREE enough?

    The story has relatively high journalistic value seeing as ONE fire in Canada is a significant percentage amoungst all new cars sold by Tesla in Canada. I have just one word.. Rickety.

    So if it has been definitely proved the S was the cause of the fire, precisely where was the origin?

  15. DaveMart says:

    Musk is utterly disingenuous when he chooses to be so.
    ‘What matters is the number of such incidents per car, and it is worth noting that gasoline car companies experience an average of five to ten times more fires per car than Tesla’

    The comparison here is done with the whole petrol car fleet, regardless of age, when most fires in gasoline cars are the result of improper maintenance and age.

    Petrol cars don’t tend to catch fire when they hit road debris, and neither, what is more, do Nissan Leaf cars.

    Analysis here:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/view/521916/update-early-data-suggests-collision-caused-fires-are-more-frequent-in-the-tesla-model-s/

    I’m not blowing this out of proportion, as the problem is limited, and anyway we have not got the numbers to do a statistically valid comparison, but the gloss Tesla is putting on it is rubbish.

    1. Mark H says:

      ICEs are averaging around 90 fires per billion miles driven and about a third of them from collisions miles. With Tesla in at 3 and over 100,000,000 miles driven,Tesla is not over in collisions and definitely not over with the total count of 5.

      The Tesla data set is still relatively small but what I find a bit odd is that all of the collision fires happening with a 5 week window. Ten months of smooth sailing, five weeks of fires, four months of smooths sailing, then two odd duck fires back to back (non collision related). Again the data set is still small.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Has any LEAF or Volt, or Prius Plugin, or Ford Energi models caught on fires in the last 2 years?

        I am sure many of them HAVE involved in severe crashes already.

        Sure, Model S is NOT fire hazard.

        But among all plugin cars, it is sure the “Hottest” model of them all…

        1. Mark Hovis says:

          The short answer is no. With over 626,000,000 Volt miles and 420,000,000 LEAF miles, the data is getting ridiculous with the lack of fires. Of the four manufactures you listed, there has not been any customer fires from sitting, driving, charging, or collisions.

          Per billion miles
          ICE EV
          90 0

  16. James says:

    4 month old Tesla – aftermarket wheels, and possibly tires…ok, …. no statement
    of source being the Tesla, but we can assume this only because Tesla’s
    employees did not say that it wasn’t – at least so far. It’s safe to say that it’s
    really, really cold up in Toronto this time of year – with average low temps at
    16F and highs of 33F in February. Of course there is no block heater because
    there is no block ( of course ), soooo…. I’m still trying my powers of deduction,
    but something looks fishy in Denmark ( errr..Toronto! )

    The wheels caught my eye ( not to my taste ). If this guy is into modifying his
    new cars ( I wonder if the Lexus is rock-stock? ), perhaps there’s more to
    this picture than we thought… Could he have had some device plugged into
    the interior of the car? Tablet; laptop or smartphone…. At first I thought the
    chrome brightwork around the windows had been anodized or painted black -
    I just don’t have that much experience viewing the results of garage fires.
    The paint is not completely burned off, and you’d think for chrome to blacken
    that much, the car’s paint would look worse than it does… Some guys just
    go nuts customizing their expensive cars – like those guys that put 22″ wheels
    and gold-plate all the labels on a Mercedes or Lexus then lower it four inches
    ( and don’t you like the neon underneath – nice touch, yeaaaahhh…. ). Not saying
    this car was that modified but we don’t know. I saw an Arab college freshman once
    at a local private school – his Lexus LS400 was lowered with low profiles and
    GOLD WIRE WHEELS! Ugh! So gaudy and extreme – yet so equally in-your-face!

    I’m making no assumptions but just putting this stuff out there. The very limited
    information so far says the heat and fire was very intense. Do you think the
    blackened chrome is burned black? The windows indicate to me that the fire may
    have initiated INSIDE the Tesla…. hmmmmm

    STAY TUNED.

    1. lewl says:

      It has actually been much colder here this year.

      Up until this week (finally around 0!), we were having highs of -15 quite frequently. That’s 5F.

      Probably a form of heater to keep the garage remotely close to freezing point for the extra cold nights.

  17. James says:

    Oh, and the open window indicates to me that it was broken open to vent the
    inside of the car.

    1. James says:

      Now I’m imagining myself as Columbo, walking around the car, scruffy
      raincoat and notepad in my hand… What kinds of crazy things do people,
      or would someone plug into their new car inside? And what would the
      chance of an electrical short or a burst laptop battery, etc. be?………..

      The door handle on the rear door looks like it’s chrome with black smudge
      on the back half of it….So perhaps the fire did start outside the car…yet
      those windows puzzle me, because, as I said, the paint seems so shiny
      on the sides, but charred on the roof – as the most intense heat was likely
      above the car as the flames inside the insulation and framing of the garage
      licked up over the car….

      There’s also the timing, just as Tesla’s stock was rising – and why are we
      hearing about this TWO WEEKS after it happened….Why now?

      1. Mark H says:

        “There’s also the timing, just as Tesla’s stock was rising – and why are we
        hearing about this TWO WEEKS after it happened….Why now?”

        That is really starting to look fishy. As I stated earlier, 10 months of smooth sailing, then 3 collision fires within a 5 week window, then 4 months of quiet followed buy two back to back incidents. This is not data sampling, it is all inclusive data. The data set is still small, but as a retired engineer that dealt with data sets for a living, this one is extremely odd.

  18. leaf owner says:

    Looks like the garage caught the Tesla on fire — not the other way around…

  19. Royal says:

    [Disclaimer: I have a position in TSLA... and I have posted these comments at Business Insider, CNBC, and Bloomberg.]

    There are a lot of weirdnesses in the Business Insider reporting:

    * The article did not say precisely when the fire happened (“earlier this month”)
    * Why was this covered so late, especially if a fire department was involved… this should have hit Twitter in almost real-time
    * Why does the Tesla seem undamaged (except for debris) in the photos
    * Why couldn’t it be attributed to the other gas-powered car that was in the garage… they never show a picture of that car
    * BI describes the fire as being “intense” but somehow it was put out quickly. (And, related, how did the fire department get there so quickly)
    * BI reports that the owner turned down monetary assistance, which if the car was at fault, doesn’t seem like a reasonable response to a homeowner that just had a fire in their garage. (And, related, if BI even confirmed with Tesla that they offered that… that seems odd as well)

    If you recall the battery issue with the Boeing planes, Musk volunteered to help with their re-design, stating specifically that Tesla’s battery design maintained a gap between batteries specifically to avoid these issues. So clearly there is intelligence about this topic at the company.

    I’m trying to be unbiased, and I really enjoy Business Insider, but the reporting issues with their piece are a concern for me, especially given the timing.

    Finally, like Philip LeBeau and CNBC / Alan Ohnsma and Bloomberg, I’m surprised Jay Cole and Inside EVs wouldn’t have questioned some of BI’s reporting as well… given Tesla’s high profile, I would have expected the more dedicated news outlets to have done some additional fact checking and not just coat-tail a piece like that.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      All good points. And we are currently trying to run down more information (I personally don’t live all that far away from where this happened).

      Like the fires previously we have reported on (we have only reported on the 4 others mentioned in the article), it is a tricky spot to be in as a member of the plug-in media.

      If we don’t report it at all until there is a official in-hand document from the FD weeks later, or report it soft/with too much skepticism – then we are being fanboys or not be objective.

      If we report it too strongly then we are ‘hating on Tesla’ and/or not being responsible enough. (ps-we love Tesla)

      Certainly there is no level of balance that can be the consensus “right amount” in the comments as opinions on the subject (and Tesla) well vary widely. We made sure to point out that the details was strictly a report at this time, and linked to the source.

      Although to another of your points, there is some precedent for a fire not being reported the moment in happened – the other fire outside the US (Mexico) took about 10 days to be widely reported.

      The US fires had social media getting them out quick (one on youtube, one on Instagram) from very public/dramatic road instances, this was a contained residential fire.

      1. Royal says:

        Jay, I appreciate the response… and the conscientious reporting… I do understand the difficult position you are in.

        If there wasn’t any time to do additional reporting, it still would have been nice if any of the news outlets would have added some qualifiers to the story rather than simply repeating. The story sounded kind of squishy to me… I’m just surprised it didn’t feel even somewhat squishy to the professional reporters. Not accepting money? Intense fire put out quickly? Nothing on Twitter? BI couldn’t even report the date it happened. Tabloid mags are certainly fun but I don’t want tabloid reporting from a financial news source.

        1. Royal says:

          Whoops, I don’t mean “the professional reporters,” I meant “you professional reporters.”

    2. Bill Howland says:

      Columbo’s only statement regarding Alt-fuel vehicles was “Natural Gas is the wave of the future – as long as you can keep the Pilot Light from blowing out!”.

    3. Jeff D says:

      I have noticed a tendency of financial websites to slant the news on whatever they are reporting based on whether or not they want you to buy or sell the stock.

      1. echo delta says:

        it’s called the internet – information is posted to modify behavior.

  20. Albertico says:

    “we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire.”

    If the car wasn’t the cause of the fire, then why are so many articles claiming it caught fire when it obviously didn’t? Is so dumb, just because a fire happens and a Tesla happens to be there it makes front news.

    Obviously people trying to short the stock before the earnings call.

    1. Mike I says:

      You could make the same statement about the Woodside, CA Fisker fire. In that case, it was not the propulsion system electric components, but peripheral 12V components that caused the fire.

  21. kdawg says:

    Someone posted this at BI. I thought it was interesting (and had lots of charts).

    http://tkolb.net/FireReports/US_VehFirTrePat2003-2007.pdf

    1. Mark H says:

      http://insideevs.com/number-of-fire-related-deaths-per-year-caused-by-evs/
      That is the report I used to generate this one a few months ago.

  22. ffbj says:

    Concerning how things work, I am no engineer, as response to an earlier response implying I don’t know what I am talking about when it comes to regenerative braking. Well the vehicle has rotary plates, caliper, technically brakes. Applying the brakes causes friction, which slow the car down, and thus creates heat. I thought that at this point some energy created by the braking process could be recovered here. Technically the term regenerative braking may apply only to the engine. But the car has brakes, and I thought that that is what the term regenerative braking could also include. Sorry If my assumptions where incorrect.

  23. ffbj says:

    I get it now. So the car has normal friction brakes and regenerative braking only applies to the electric engine.

  24. Driveby says:

    how about that spin:
    - some investors want to play a bit with Tesla stock
    - get some dudes S on fire
    - see stock plummet for a little (news & hysteria will take care of that)
    - profit?

  25. e-lectric says:

    Still waiting for Elon (Xavier) to blame Magneto.

  26. Jeff D says:

    The pictures do seem to indicate that the garage itself suffered more intense heat than the car itself. I would tend to think that the car was not the cause. Another curious thing about this story that was mentioned in the comments on Business Insider was that Tesla may not have found out about the fire until very recently calling in to question the truth behind Tesla people being sent out right away much less seven. Many commenters on Business Insider have also questioned the accuracy of the reporting in the original article. Thank you InsideEVs for trying to cut through the crap to get to the truth. Looking forward to what you find out next.

  27. Bob says:

    The fact that the owner declined any compensation from Tesla is odd. Could it be he knows the exact cause of the fire, and it was his fault and doesn’t want to admit it?