Tesla Battery Reignites 6 Days After Crash


Reignition occurred several times

Along with new technologies comes new challenges, and electric vehicles are no exception. This lesson was reinforced recently when battery cells from the a fiery Tesla Model X crash reignited days after the original incident.

Read Also: UPDATE – Tesla Fires Back – NTSB Removes Tesla From Investigation Into Deadly Model X Crash

Fire-damaged battery cells from Model X crash

According to Mountain View Fire Chief Juan Diaz, the battery from this particular deadly crash reignited after six days. Some of the cells that weren’t completely destroyed in the pack still had energy, and over time the damaged cylinders experienced heat elevation that eventually turned into a combustion event.

Though it is, thankfully, a rare occurance, it is one that first responders and others need to be aware of. To that end the Chief Diaz issued a 13-page document that discusses the dangers the firemen had experienced during the response to the Model X accident. Among the main issues is how to deal with an energized battery when the mechanism for neutralizing it — the “cut loop” — is destroyed.

With electric vehicles increasing in number by the day, the risk of a secondary fires and other challenges goes up. One potential tool for responders under development and being eyed by fire departments is the  DC hot stick. It can tell the user whether a vehicle has current flowing through the body structure.

Source: KTVU

Categories: Crashed EVs, Tesla

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41 Comments on "Tesla Battery Reignites 6 Days After Crash"

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Should be fun working in the junk yards of the future…no more dull days.

Future junk yards should transport and store fresh tesla wrecks just like spent nuclear fuel, underwater in banks. And make sure water doesn’t evaporate as in Fukushima /s

Seriously, out of control burning is Tesla specific problem, not EV in general. Some wrecked Volt also caught fire in junk yard, but it is isolated exception. Hopefully a decade later this reckless engineering with unstable NCA cells will be forgotten, dangerous cars will be off the road, and firefighters will not be overwhelmed babysitting every week old wreck in junkyard.

This same issue was a huge deal with Volt NMC after crash testing in 2011. The test car caught fire three weeks later. It is not unique to Tesla, but they get the most attention, in part because they have the most EVs.

There are far more Leafs/Zoe’s on the road than Tesla’s. Within the US, GM had more EVs on the ground till as recently as 2 months ago.

In the case of the Volt they stored the car upside down – not a normal thing to do.

These is a video on YouTube of a guy stabbing and burning a leaf battery cell. The result is as exciting as watching paint dry.

Why isn’t NTSB investigating inadequate training of these firefighters? They routinely make recommendations in other transportation sectors to improve operations manuals and maintenance procedures

They might, NTSB is still investigating this incident

I think they were properly trained. They just couldn’t get to the cut loops because the car was cut in half and was on fire.

That Tesla fire in Switzerland the other day burned uber hot– somebody has to be looking at whether there can be structural damage in the concrete and re-bar (this happens in big JP4 and diesel tanker fires) in overpasses from all the heat.

If this keeps up, some of these Highway Departments will have to take a look. we may need to begin to bank them from tunnels, too, such as the Mount Blanc Tunnel and Caldecott up in the Bay Area.

All the Tesla people say “more ICE fires” but ignore that the gasoline is so volatile that the fires burn fast and exhaust heat upward. With the packs on the bottom of the car, and the sheer amount of heat involved, this is going to be a big problem for firefighters wherever these cars are used.

Mont Blanc tunnel was ICE, likely those need to be banned first.

Its true, Often when a gas tank is ruptures it is while the vehicle is still moving and the gas goes all over, flashes and then goes out… Like in Nascar, it looks spectacular, and then pretty much goes out on its own or with a few fire extinguishers. These Teslas in the Florida and Switzerland accidents got very hot very quick, and stayed that way stopping bystanders from attempting a rescue.

Yes, it’s true. The gasoline burns out and the rest of the car just sits there watching. Looking forward to your next crazy idea!

That Swiss fire was incredibly intense. Much much worse than the typical gasoline fire. I suppose the aluminum and magnesium in the car contribute to some of the heat after it really gets going, but far after the occupants have been Cremated. So Ford F150’s I suppose are a bit more dangerous than the average gas car, but the intense heat of those Tesla fires plus all the explosions make that car a super scary place to be.

Safest car in existence by a factor of 4 supposedly? Yeah!

Another Tesla crash (probably AP again) with the car catching fire and driver dying. When will Tesla stop using their customers as guinea pigs? 🙁


Slow down Bro1999, lets wait for the data to come in before we blame A/P

There is on average more than 1 person dying by car fire every day in the US (like 440 per year). We only hear about it if Tesla. 31 cars burn every hour. Which do we hear about?

These high speed crashes are most likely fatal to driver fire or no. They do need to be investigated of course, not saying otherwise.


This does not seem like current information, do you have something more up to date, and covering luxury vehicles in the same year and class of Tesla vehicles? I think comparing a 2016 Model S to a 55 chevrolet is a bit silly…

GM cars don’t need anything fancy like Autopilot for hundreds of people to die in fires in them every year, worldwide.

No wonder GM fanboy and serial Tesla basher MadBro is so desperate to blame everything on Tesla Autopilot! Was there a train wreck somewhere? Blame Autopilot! DId your girlfriend get pregnant? Blame Autopilot!


Volcanic eruptions blame auto pilot LOL CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS

If the autopilot works, it actually could be a contributing cause to pregnancy…

Or Plumbing Checks.

The story is about catching on fire (again) 6 days later. If the driver wasn’t out by then,………….he probably died of starvation.

I wouldn’t worry though, even if all of us EV followers best case scenarios came true, we’ve surely got the best part of 20 years of new ICE-mobiles being readily available for you to choose from, before you have to scrounge for “classic” ICE-mobiles to drive.

How do you de-energize a damaged battery?

Let it burn…. Joking aside, that is tricky when the car is so heavily damaged. Tesla came to the scene on the car we are discussing here and said the battery was safe to transport… I guess not.

Drop it in a grounded bucket?

“How do you de-energize a damaged battery?”

Emergency responders are given instructions on how to safely discharge a PEV’s (Plug-in EV) battery pack after an accident, but common sense says that discharging every cell would require all the cells to be still connected in the pack. If the battery pack is heavily damaged in a horrible accident, I can see that some cells or groups of cells in a PEV’s pack might be physically separated from the rest, and may escape being discharged, which would create a long-term fire hazard.

I guess that’s what happened here. Either that or the emergency responders didn’t follow the instructions properly.

The Fire Chief said the emergency disconnect was destroyed in the crash so responders were on their own.

Any RC modeler dealing with LiPos know that. Just dunk the whole battery into a tub full of water and add a few shovels of salt to make that water conductive. Then simply wait …

Battery the size of a car battery might boil off some water, which you can add anytime.

Storing a damaged lithium battery without this procedure done is actually asking for trouble. I would consider all “damaged battery caused a fire” news to be of the “someone didn’t do their homework” type.

What needs to be done in these cass is disassembly and recycle as soon as possible. There is a market for these batteries. They get a second life in ebikes, golf carts and home storage projects.

In this case, that might be considered destroying evidence (possibly key evidence) as I’m sure there’s already a lawsuit.

Reminds me of the crash tests done when the Volt was new, in which two crashed Volts sitting in a parking lot had the battery packs ignite.

However, so far as I know, no Volt battery pack as ever ignited following a traffic accident.

The single Volt that caught fire after crash test did so 2 weeks after the test, and because the car had been stored upside down allowing battery coolant to leak inside the battery itself. GM quickly fixed this in the design.

48yr old man from Germany burned to death last Thursday in his Tesla Model X in Switzerland. Fire Department looks into Battery “Thermal Runaway” issue. Tesla is involved as well.


There is a simple solution for EV battery fires, and ICE fires, and it would reduce CO2, and oil depletion as well. Return to a 55 mph national speed limit and revoke the licenses of offenders. This could be done in days, and have a huge impact on climate change, and traffic deaths and injures. We won’t because nobody cares about the future. We want to party now.

Now that’s how you advertise evs! “Come drive our 300hp, 55 m/h top speed electric beast!”

Enjoy the party. The hangover will be epic.

The “cut loop” does nothing to de-energize the battery. Cutting it kills the 12 VDC power to the main HVDC power contactor, which then opens and disconnects the HV battery power from the HVDC distribution, de-energizing all the HV cables feeding the inverter, AC compressor, heater, etc. The emergency crew can then feel safe about cutting into body panels, etc and not hitting a live 400 VDC cable. Typically, if the battery is mechanically-damaged or air bags deploy, this contactor automatically opens without the cut-loop being cut. But also all first-responder manuals for all EVs show where those cables are so they can avoid them if at all possible.

De-energizing the battery requires connecting it to a large resistance bank to slowly discharge the pack, which can’t really be done at an accident scene. With a severely damaged pack with compromised current-collectors and bus bars, all one can do is let it sit, keep it cool, and wait…..for weeks or months….before attempting to further disassemble to the cell level and discharge each cell.

With the Model 3 pack modules, the cells in the modules are so-glued-together that I don’t know if it could ever be disassembled.

Thanks for this info.

A damaged li-ion battery pack will short circuit and ignite, all fire departments and junk yards need to plan for this. CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS thanks for caring

This is one area where Tesla is at a slight disadvantage. Their battery chemistry NCA is more susceptible to runaway condition than NMC (though all Li chemistries will do so at some point). They chose NCA for performance reasons, but this is the price you pay for that.