You could say that Elon Musk, the CEO and product architect of Tesla Inc., is an extremely intelligent individual and billionaire, and I’m not.
But after reading about a horrific car accident on Amherst Street in which a Tesla crashed into a tree and became fully engulfed in flames, I’m not so sure about the electric car revolution.
There are many who see electric vehicles as the wave of the future, where folks can drive where they need to go, not worry about dependence on gasoline and at the same time help reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the planet.
Even President Biden is behind the wheel on this one. In August, Biden signed an order setting a nonbinding goal that 50% of new U.S. car sales be electric by 2030. He wants the U.S. to be zero-emissions by 2050.
And yet, when you read about and see photos of electric vehicle accidents, it’s frightening, and our first responders have double the challenges when arriving at the scene. Luckily, the victim in Nashua’s recent, single-vehicle accident was safely removed from the 2022 Tesla by witnesses before the red electric car went up in flames.
I didn’t know that electric vehicles could make rescue attempts difficult, but they can because of their components, including their power via a lithium-ion battery. And firefighters have their hands full.
This was tweeted by Nashua Fire Rescue on the social media platform Twitter during the April 9 incident:
“E5/E1/L1 operated at this motor vehicle accident with fire on Amherst St involving a Tesla vehicle. This type of incident requires an extended on-scene time for our companies. Thank you for the civilians who assisted the occupant to safety.”
Nashua Fire is an all-hazards professional organization that can handle these types of dangerous accidents, but electric vehicle crashes can pose major risks for first responders, including electrocution, because of the high-voltage wires that run throughout the vehicle.
“The risks of electric shock and battery reignition/fire arise from the ‘stranded’ energy that remains in a damaged battery,” warns the National Transportation Safety Board.
Also, blazes caused by electric vehicles can require a significant amount of water to put out. For example, last June in a suburb of Houston, a Tesla Model S crashed killing two people and caught fire. It was doused, and then, reignited for the third time.
Chief Palmer Buck of The Woodlands Township Fire Department told NBC News said that this type of blaze was like “a trick birthday candle.”
His crew of eight “ultimately spent seven hours putting out the fire. They also used up 28,000 gallons of water — an amount the department normally uses in a month.”
Just to compare, a “regular” car on fire (one with internal combustion), would need about 300 gallons of water to put out.
In New Hampshire, there are a little more than 3,000 registered electric vehicles at the moment. And there are 86 charging stations located throughout Nashua and Manchester from what I gather. One of them is in the downtown Elm Street Parking Garage in Nashua.
Of course, ownership of electric vehicles is expected to rise as time goes on.
Let’s hope that the manufacturers of these vehicles improve the emergency safety guides for our first responders with better vehicle-specific details on how to suppress these unique and potentially long-burning fires.