Not to beat a dead horse, but the video taken by RTV 6 news is dramatic. It shows the Tesla that crashed early Thursday morning fully engulfed in flames and individual cells from the car’s battery bursting into flame and popping like fireworks on the 4th of July. I know some of you will object to us posting this, but this is unlike anything else ever before caught on video and raises at least a threshold question as to the safety of Tesla batteries in high speed collisions with solid objects, like trees.
In this case, it appears the car slid sideways into a tree along Illinois Street in Indianapolis and hit the tree broadside, then pirouetted around the tree and struck the side of a parking garage nearby. The force of the collision apparently breached the metal casing that surrounds the battery pack, allowing several individual cells to escape. They then burst into flames and exploded as rescue workers were arriving, hampering their efforts to assist the people inside.
Firefighters told the press that they concentrated on removing the passenger first, as they quickly determined the driver had been killed by the crash. The passenger was alive when removed from the car but died soon after arriving at a local hospital. The intensity of the blaze presented a serious barrier to getting the passenger out of the car. Extrication took about 15 minutes.
A spokesperson for the Indianapolis fire department said it had practiced controlling lithium ion battery fires. Indianapolis is home to the Blue Indy car sharing service operated by the Bolloré Group. Blue Indy uses electric cars equipped with lithium ion batteries. Tesla has also provided training manuals to many fire departments around the world to help emergency workers understand how to handle electrical fires and shut off the batteries in its cars to avoid the possibility of being shocked by the high voltages involved.
Source: Jalopnik Video via RTV6 News/YouTube