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Tram fires destroyed homes after Hurricane Ian caused salt water damage. Florida officials want answers



It sounds paradoxical, but electric cars submerged in salt water can catch fire. That proved to be a problem in Florida after Hurricane Ian, which flooded parts of the state last month.

Now, Florida officials are looking for answers. This week, US Senator Rick Scott wrote about the issue for the Department of Transportation and electric vehicle manufacturers. In a letter to transport secretary Pete Buttigieg, Scott wrote:

In addition to the damage caused by the storm, mangrove flooding in some coastal areas caused devastating consequences after Hurricane Ian by causing flooded lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) to spontaneously ignite and burn. This emerging threat has forced local fire departments to shift resources away from post-storm recovery to controlling and preventing these dangerous fires. Car fires caused by electric vehicles have proven to be extremely dangerous and last for a long time, in many cases taking up to 6 hours to burn out. Alarmingly, even when vehicle fires are extinguished, they can flare up again in an instant. Sadly, a number of Florida homes that survived Hurricane Ian, have now been lost to fires caused by flooded trams.

Scott asked Buttigieg what guidance his division has provided — or requires electric vehicle manufacturers to provide — to consumers, as well as what protocols the division has developed for the automakers themselves. bowl.

Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire chief, also weighed in on the issue. Last week, he wrote to Jack Danielson, executive director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, requested “immediate guidance” and noted, “In my experience, Southwest Florida has a significant number of vehicles. electricity is being used and if those trams are left, affected by high tides, and sitting in garages, there is a risk of a fire.”

He noted that, based on his research, “most guidance on submerged vehicles does not address the specific risks associated with electric vehicles’ exposure to salt water.” He added that earlier this month, “I attended the North Collier Fire Rescue… and witnessed firsthand a tram that kept on fire, and kept coming back up again, as the cars kept coming back to life. ignite the car with tens of thousands of gallons of water.”

I also warn that “Electric vehicles can be a positive ticking time bomb.”

Above TwitterPatronis shared a video of firefighters trying to put out a fire Tesla. He wrote in the tweet, “There are a lot of disabled EVs from Ian. When these batteries corrode, a fire starts. It is a new challenge that our firefighters have never faced before. At least at this kind of scale. “

In an answer to Patronis, Danielson wrote:

Test results specifically for saltwater immersion show that salt bridges can form inside the battery pack and provide a path for short-circuiting and self-heating. This may lead to a fire. As with other forms of battery deterioration, the time it takes to go from self-heating to igniting can vary widely.

He added:

It could be useful for those not involved in immediate rescue missions to identify flooded vehicles with lithium-ion batteries and move them at least 50 feet from any structure or vehicle. or any flammable substance.

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