Florida officials are expressing growing concern about fires involving electric vehicles such as Tesla cars in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Sen. Rick Scott is demanding action from both the Department of Transportation and vehicle makers as the ticking time bombs created by salt water interacting with EV batteries is draining the resources of first responders. In a letter, Sen. Scott wrote: “This emerging threat has forced local fire departments to divert resources away from hurricane recovery to control and contain these dangerous fires.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is now demanding action from the Transportation Department and automakers — including Tesla, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis — after several fires involving electric vehicles transpired in connection to Hurricane Ian, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Florida firefighter battles Tesla fire (North Collier Fire Rescue District/Facebook)
Elon Musk shrugs (Scott Olsen/Getty)
“This emerging threat has forced local fire departments to divert resources away from hurricane recovery to control and contain these dangerous fires,” Sen. Scott said. “Car fires from electric vehicles have proven to be extremely dangerous and last for a prolonged period, taking in many cases up to six hours to burn out.”
Sen. Scott joins Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis, who recently sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requesting information on the fire risks created by saltwater mixing with the batteries of electric vehicles.
“The State Fire Marshal’s Office is in need of immediate guidance regarding the response to fires produced by electric vehicles (EVs) that are compromised as a result of lithium batteries corroding from exposure to salt water,” Patronis said in his letter.
Moreover, the State Fire Marshal added that two houses in Florida burned down on Monday as a result of an electric vehicle catching fire.
Electric vehicles were seen catching on fire in Florida after becoming waterlogged during Hurricane Ian, giving firefighters “a new challenge” they “haven’t faced before,” Patronis said.
The NHTSA says it is aware of multiple fires involving Tesla vehicles, according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg.
In its reply to Patronis, the NHTSA said, “Lithium-ion vehicle battery fires have been observed both rapidly igniting and igniting several weeks after battery damage occurred.”
In a separate statement to Bloomberg, the NHTSA said fires involving electric vehicles “pose unique challenges” for firefighters.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration aims to quickly expand electric vehicle usage across the country — by having 50 percent of all new cars sold in the U.S. be electric by 2030 — and other Democrat lawmakers are seeking to make EVs mandatory.
In August, California announced that all new cars sold in the state must be zero-emission by 2035.