Video Shows EV Actively Burning Underwater

A Tesla Model X caught fire after backing down a boat ramp and completely submerging itself. The automobile continued to fire while submerged.

According to reports, a couple drives their Tesla to the Polk Street boat launch in Hollywood, Florida, to unload a jet ski. The husband gets the jet ski into the water as the wife backs the trailer into the water. A caution light on the Tesla starts blinking at the lady as her husband is on the lake in a jet ski. The car’s electrically powered doors are shut, and the problem prevents them from opening. Unaware of the doors’ manual release, the spouse rushes to her side to save her before the Model X sinks beneath the waves. The SUV “lost traction and fell into the inter-coastal,” according to the Hollywood Professional Firefighters Facebook page, albeit this may not have been the actual cause of the accident.

Neither the front nor the falcon doors appear open in the video posted to that Facebook page, but at least one of the back windows is.

An explosion of poisonous fumes and flames breaks the surface of the water when the SUV’s battery catches fire as it slips into the lake.

Patrick Durham is a captain and training officer for the fire department, a mechanical engineer who aids in the development of EV battery boxes, and the man behind the YouTube channel StacheD Training. He investigated the incident and clarified the need for ventilation in enclosed battery boxes. There are “quite good probabilities” that the ventilation system will fail underwater, allowing water to enter the box.

Saltwater is highly destructive to lithium-ion EV batteries because it causes a short circuit in the electronics and a chemical reaction known as thermal runaway. Durham provided two similar cases, one involving a Model X in Spain and the other a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in Vancouver, occurring near a boat dock. The Mitsubishi was dragged out of the water too quickly, and its battery experienced the same thermal runaway as the other car, igniting again in the marina parking lot.

Back in Florida, emergency workers left the fire burn until it died out, placed the Model X on a carrier, and drove it to the impound yard accompanied by a fire truck in case the battery turned into a grill again. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident.