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Firefighters shoot 6,000 gallons of water at ‘spontaneously’ burning Tesla on California highway

A Tesla Model S battery “spontaneously caught fire” inside the vehicle as it was driving on a highway in Rancho Cordova, California, where firefighters used 6,000 gallons of water to combat the blaze.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District firefighters arrived at the scene on 28 January to find the car “engulfed in flames” due to a fire inside its battery compartment, according to the agency’s posts on Twitter.

The battery cells “continued to combust,” requiring crews to respond with thousands of gallons of water before it was extinguished.

Video of the incident shows firefighters hosing the car in the middle of Highway 50. Images from the aftermath show the warped and charred remains of the front of the car.

No injuries were reported, according to fire officials.

The incident follows several headline-making disasters and viral videos involving the electric vehicle manufacturer’s fleet. Although rare, electric car fires burn at much higher temperatures compared to other cars, posing new and dangerous challenges to fire departments.

Fire crews in Sacramento ultimately had to put a flaming car in a pit with water last summer to stop the battery compartment from reigniting.

In October, when the battery of a Tesla that was submerged in hurricane floodwaters corroded and caught fire, firefighters in Florida used 1,500 gallons of water to put out the flames.

It took 12,000 gallons of water and four fire departments to extinguish a fire involving a Tesla Model S in Pennsylvania in November. A typical car fire can be handled with as little as 500 gallons, according to fire officials.

Tesla claims that it can take between 3,000 and 8,000 gallons of water “applied directly to the battery” to completely extinguish a blaze. Battery fires, the manufacturer notes, may take up to 24 hours to be fully extinguished.

In 2021, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration declined to open an investigation into Tesla car battery fires, calling them “rare events.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that only .01 per cent of Teslas have ever caught fire.