A Conneticut Transit electric bus caught fire Saturday in Hamden, Connecticut, according to fire officials.
The Hamden Fire Department posted on its Facebook page, “Crews responded to an electric bus fire in the parking lot of the CT Transit Bus Depot on State Street this morning.”
“Lithium ion battery fires are difficult to extinguish due to the thermal chemical process that produces great heat and continually reignites,” the Hamden FD noted.
WVIT-TV reported that with this type of battery fire, officials said they just have to let it burn.
Two CT Transit workers were transported to the hospital as a precaution from exposure to the smoke, and one firefighter for heat exhaustion.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
WTNH-TV reported that CT Transit Interim Deputy General Manager Josh Rickman said the bus involved in the fire was purchased in 2021.
In April, the Paris, France-based public transportation operator Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens temporarily pulled 149 electric buses from its fleet after two of them burst into flames that month.
The second explosion occurred on April 29 around 9 a.m. local time near Paris’s 13th arrondissement, on the famous left bank.
Footage of the bus engulfed in flames was widely circulated on social media.
— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) April 29, 2022
Battery fires in electric vehicles, according to Forbes, happen for two main reasons.
One is a crash that damages individual cells in the battery, which can eventually lead to a fire engulfing other cells and subsequently the entire vehicle.
This was the issue with early Teslas.
The other main reason is manufacturing defects.
Forbes noted that EV fires are relatively rare, but the lithium-ion pack is “extremely difficult” to put out when they do occur.
“I just remember some of our firefighters standing there shooting so much water at that electric vehicle, and it not going out,” Orange County Fire Captain Greg Barta told the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Spotlight on America last year.
“It was something I had never seen.”
According to Forbes, “Manufacturers are also investing billions of dollars to develop next-generation batteries, most notably the solid-state cells that manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Toyota hope to start using around the middle of this decade.”
“By replacing the chemical slurry found in current batteries with a solid alternative, solid-state batteries are expected to be essentially fireproof.”
UPDATE, July 29, 2022: Online insurance broker AutoInsuranceEZ.com researched auto fires by type of car using data from the National Transportation Safety Board, Bureau of Transportation Statistics and Recalls.gov and concluded “that despite the focus on EV fires in the news, they are not inherently more dangerous than gas or hybrid vehicles, although electric fires tend to be more difficult than gas fires to extinguish.”
Perhaps more importantly, the independent, nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute in a study of “electric and conventional versions of nine models from 2011 to 2019” concluded that electric vehicles may be considered significantly safer than similar conventional models because “rates of injury claims related to the drivers and passengers of electric vehicles were more than 40 percent lower than for identical conventional models over 2011-19. This result is similar to an earlier HLDI study of hybrid vehicles, and one likely explanation is that the large batteries used in both types of vehicles make them substantially heavier than their conventional counterparts. Occupants of heavier vehicles are exposed to lower forces in multivehicle crashes.”
The Western Journal is adding this information to this story as important context regarding the safety of electric vehicles in general.
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