NAPLES, Fla. - Florida officials said firefighters working in Hurricane Ian damage zones are encountering a new problem that is proving challenging - electric vehicle fires from corroded batteries.
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer & State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis took to social media Thursday to show the response by North Collier Fire Rescue to an EV that caught fire in the middle of a busy roadway.
"There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian. As those batteries corrode, fires start. That’s a new challenge that our firefighters haven’t faced before. At least on this kind of scale," Patronis said.
First responders did not report any injuries associated with the incident but said these fires can be difficult to extinguish.
An official on scene can be heard saying in a video, "So, we’ve already put on 1,500 gallons of water on this, and it is still going. This shows how dangerous these fires are."
An analysis of vehicle fires published by AutoInsuranceEZ over the summer found that hybrid vehicle fires are most common when compared to sales figures of gas and electric vehicles. Gas vehicles came in second for fires per 100K in sales, and electric vehicles came in a distant third.
Despite seeing fewer fires than either gas or hybrid vehicles, auto experts said electric car fires are significantly harder to extinguish because of lithium-ion batteries.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, Florida has the second-highest number of registered electric vehicles in the country.
As of June, the Sunshine State was home to nearly 100,000 electric vehicles.
Patronis did not say how many electric vehicles caught fire as a result of Ian’s impacts but did say crews have special training and understanding of the vehicles to quickly and safely put out the flames.