On the morning of May 28, firefighters from the Normal Fire Department in Normal, Illinois responded to a call about an electric vehicle battery fire at the Rivian manufacturing plant located in the town. Upon arriving, it was observed that the battery in question was on fire and in thermal runaway, which means its cells were catching fire individually and causing a chain reaction throughout the pack.
They put out the fire and continued to douse the pack with water in order to prevent it from reigniting, a major concern when dealing with one of these EV fires. They also requested backup and were assisted by firefighters from the nearby Bloomingdale FD, but they didn’t have to intervene.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, although it will be investigated. When the thermal runaway began, the defective pack was being tested in the southwest part of the plant, and Rivian quickly evacuated that entire part of the facility so nobody was harmed. The pack was in a test booth that also helped contain the fire and the damage didn’t extend beyond the booth.
According to WGLT, this is the third time Normal firefighters had to respond to fires at the Rivian plant since it opened last fall. Not long after the plant became operational, in October of 2021, they were called in for the first time, to put out a minor fire that was reported in the battery assembly area (where most of the process is automated and performed by robots).
Back in February, one vehicle burst into flames at the plant, and in this instance, it was apparently the factory’s fire suppression system that kept it from spreading.
The Normal factory is currently the only Rivian manufacturing location, but the automaker also plans to build a new facility in Georgia, which will be five times larger and it will require a $5-billion investment. It will also feature a test track, off-road trails, as well as a training center, research building, logistics center and no fewer than 144 EV chargers.