A Tesla caught fire and burned after a single-vehicle collision on Interstate 95 in Wakefield the evening of Jan. 20.
According to the Wakefield Fire Department, the Wakefield Fire Department and Massachusetts State Police responded to a single-vehicle accident in the northbound lanes of Interstate I-95 near Exit 59 at 10:47 p.m.
According to Captain John Walsh, who was on the scene, the Tesla was found wedged against the right guardrail. As the vehicle was being prepared to be removed from the scene, the guardrail punctured the undercarriage, causing the lithium-ion battery to go into thermal runaway. The vehicle was completely engulfed in flames.
During this incident, Thomas Purcell assumed overall command of the incident and Captain Walsh was in charge of ground fire operations. Linfield Fire Chief Glenn Davis was also on scene. Several surrounding mutual aid communities also responded to support the firefighting operation and a water shuttle was established to bring water continuously to the scene.
After 2 ½ hours of spraying large amounts of water on vehicles, the fire was declared contained and completely extinguished. Over 20,000 gallons of water were used during this time. The 38-year-old driver of the vehicle, who was not in the vehicle at the time of the fire, declined medical treatment.
As sales of electric and hybrid vehicles increase, fire departments have been modifying their tactics to respond properly, protect property and firefighters, and control these types of fires. Fighting an electric or hybrid vehicle fire is inherently dangerous and responders must consider additional challenges. Fire companies on the scene of an EV fire should take longer to manage and control an EV fire, ensure a large, continuous, sustainable water supply is established, and maintain a high level of situational awareness and preparedness for secondary fires.