(LEE COUNTY, FLA) — Florida officials are begging for help from the federal government and EV car companies after several electric vehicles left submerged in Hurricane Ian’s flood waters are now spontaneously bursting into flames.
In the hurricane’s aftermath, the electric vehicles’ batteries are suddenly bursting into flames after being damaged in flood water.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledging the problem, writing “lithium ion battery fires have been observed both rapidly igniting and igniting several weeks after battery damage occurred.” And now, Florida state fire marshal is calling on EV companies to pitch in.
In addition, many towing companies are now refusing to remove the cars for fear of an explosion and firefighters are left battling the massive fireballs that are nearly impossible to extinguish.
Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis has called for electric car companies to “step-up, demonstrate leadership and partner with the State of Florida and local officials in this recovery.”
The State Fire Marshal issued a letter to over 30 electric vehicle manufacturers, including Tesla, Rivian, Ford, GM and others, calling on the companies to “step-up, demonstrate leadership and partner with the State of Florida and local officials in this recovery.”
In the letter, the CFO demanded that EV manufacturers do more to help firefighters mitigate risks associated with battery fires caused by salty storm surge waters from Hurricane Ian. The CFO also asked nine questions of the manufactures to assess and identify methods to limit the risk of EV fires. The letter comes on the heels of a communication from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirming that saltwater can lead to fires with EV batteries.
Patronis claims that the vehicles are a hazard to vehicle owners, fire teams and nearby Floridians. He condemned manufacturers for not building in safeguards against spontaneous combustion.
“The unfortunate reality is that there is a population of vehicles that could spontaneously combust, putting our first responders at risk, and the manufacturers are nowhere to be found. For as big a risk as this is to fire teams, for companies who have received an immense sum of subsidies from taxpayers, I would have hoped the reaction by manufacturers would have been more robust – especially as these EVs supposedly have a tremendous amount of technology and connectivity,” he wrote in the letter. “There could be a family who evacuated, whose home was left relatively intact from Ian, who may still lose everything because of an abandoned EV, left in their garage, that catches fire as a result of salty storm surge waters.”
Some Floridians have already discovered this the hard way. One house on hard-hit Sanibel Island was severely damaged after the Tesla in the garage of the home caught on fire from the storm, according to a retweet from Patronis who writes, “Many of these families are trying to rebuild their lives following Ian, and manufacturers should really be doing more for families in their time of need. That’s just good corporate stewardship.
Unfortunately, there’s a science experiment taking place in Florida with EVs and salty storm surge waters post-Ian. Saltwater can cause EVs to combust after exposure. It’s something government and the private sector needs to know for disaster planning. https://t.co/yTKGLxvjbV pic.twitter.com/OqyXoinWon
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) October 20, 2022