A totaled white Tesla Model S sat resting in a wrecking yard in California for roughly three weeks before suddenly bursting into flames.
Firefighters from the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District responded to the blaze in Rancho Cordova. Video footage of the fire was captured and posted on Instagram. It was the Metro fire crew’s first call to a Tesla vehicle fire, according to the post.
The firefighters found that whenever they thought they had put out the fire, the electric car’s battery compartment would reignite.
With the help of individuals working at the wrecking yard, the fire crew turned the vehicle onto its side to gain direct access to the battery compartment.
“Even with direct penetration, the vehicle would still re-ignite due to the residual heat,” the post read.
They decided to dig a pit with an on-site tractor, managed to push the car into the hole, and filled it with enough water to submerge the vehicle. The fire finally died.
It took a dozen firefighters over an hour, plus 4,500 gallons of water, to put out the blaze, which is approximately the same amount of water it takes to put out a typical building fire, according to Metro fire crew spokesman Capt. Parker Wilbourn, speaking with The Washington Post.
Wilbourn stated that his department did not yet know what caused the electric car to “spontaneously catch fire.”
As of Tuesday, Tesla had not responded to a request for comment by the Post.
The wrecking yard fire in Sacramento resembled previous electric car fires in recent years.
When two Teslas caught fire in a garage in San Ramon, California, in December 2020, it took at least six fire trucks to put out the blaze, according to the Post.
Also in December 2020, a Tesla Model S that caught fire in Frisco, Texas, reportedly expelled flames “like a flamethrower.”
In an April 2021 incident, a crashed Tesla erupted into flames in Woodlands, Texas. The fire raged for four hours and required 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish.
Wilbourn told the Post that roughly 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of water are needed to put out battery fires. Lithium-ion batteries, commonly found in electric vehicles, are notoriously difficult to put out because they keep burning until all the stored energy has been discharged.