After crashing into a tree, a Tesla Model S violently burst into flames causing cells from its lithium-ion battery to explode.
The video above shows parts of the batteries, which can burn for up to 24 hours, bursting into flames after the crash and shooting into the air like fireworks. The single-vehicle crash, which killed the driver and a passenger, occurred Thursday morning in Indianapolis, WTHR reported.
In a press conference following the accident, Indianapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief Kevin Jones explained that although he and his team have been trained on how to respond to fires in hybrid or electrical vehicles, fires related to high-voltage lithium-ion batteries require “copious amounts of water” to extinguish and burn at an extremely high temperature.
Jones described the scene of the fatal crash, noting debris and battery cells were strewed approximately 100 feet in each direction.
“Some of those smaller cells that had broken apart began firing off almost like projectiles around the rescuers,” Jones said, before he noted he had not seen anything of this magnitude before.
Another witness, Al Finnell, told The Associated Pressthat he saw the car hit the tree before it bounced around and exploded. “… all the car parts went up in the air and I had to accelerate just to get away from it,” he said.
Jones explained that the accident occurred after the driver lost control of the vehicle while driving at a high speed. He also made it clear that large fires following high-speed crashes are not unique to electric vehicles.
“If you have collisions at high rates of speed with impacts like that, regardless if it’s a traditional power vehicle via gasoline or hybrid or all electric, you can see a fire in a vehicle like that or severe damage,” Jones said. “And so to say it was simply because it was an electric vehicle, you can’t say that because we’ve seen collisions that are non-electric vehicles with just as bad of damage or fire.”
A Tesla spokesperson told Mashable the company believed Autopilot was not turned on during the crash. If Autopilot had been engaged “it would have limited the vehicle’s speed to less than 35 mph on this street, which is inconsistent with witness statements and the damage sustained,” according to the spokesperson.