Tesla Bursts Into Flames at Stoplight, Driver Forced to Kick Out Window to Escape Electric Car Fire
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.
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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