One minute, Jamil Jutha was driving his 2021 Tesla Model Y through North Vancouver.
The next, he was battling to escape its smoke-filled interior.
The incident took place Friday when the eight-month-old vehicle suddenly shut down, cutting power to all of its electronic parts, according to CTV News.
“The doors wouldn’t open. The windows wouldn’t go down,” Jutha said.
Smoke began to fill the interior. Although Teslas have a mechanical release for emergencies, Jutha said it was not easy to use, particularly amid the panic of a potentially life-threatening incident.
“Of course, there’s always going to be panic in a moment when you feel trapped,” he said. “I kicked through the window, climbed out and called 911 right away.”
A video of the fire posted to YouTube includes Jutha explaining the moment he knew something was wrong.
“All of a sudden, my car just shut down. It just said ‘error error error,’ and all then of a sudden the battery started smoking,” he said.
Eventually, the fire burned into where Jutha had been sitting, turning the car into a blazing fireball.
“We’re very fortunate that this individual had the wherewithal and the strength to kick the window out,” said Chief Brian Hutchinson, with the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, according to CTV News.
The cause of the malfunction has not yet been determined..
Jutha is cautioning Tesla owners to become familiar with the emergency door release — just in case.
James Lester, who shot the YouTube video, said that escape preparation is vital, according to the Daily Hive.
“If this was my grandmother trapped in her car, it would have ended very differently, and that’s the point the driver would like people to appreciate,” he said.
With the increase in the number of electric cars on the road, there have been more electric car fires, according to Business Insider, which noted that the Vancouver fire was the third Tesla fire of last week.
However, the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries makes the fires that do take place burn hotter than conventional gasoline-powered cars that catch on fire.
Fire concerns last year led General Motors to recall some Chevrolet Bolt models while Tesla has had its own recall over concerns that touchscreens could overheat.
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