Firefighters in Indianapolis were presented with a raging fire to extinguish after a Tesla Model S crashed into a tree.
According to witnesses, the driver - 27-year-old Casey Speckman - was traveling at a “a high rate,” WTHR reports. She was pronounced dead at the scene, while her passenger - 44-year-old Kevin McCarthy - later died in hospital.
An intense fire followed the crash, complicated by burning battery cells launching out of the wrecked car. It was put out in around 5-10 minutes, and as is apparently the case with most hybrid or electric car fires, it was done so using “copious amounts of water.”
It’s important to point out that in the Indianapolis Fire Department press conference seen above it’s mentioned many vehicles explode after crashes of this severity, regardless of what fuels them. It’s just that electric and hybrid car fires present unique challenges.
Tesla actually has extensive guides on its website to help firefighters safely put out fires like these, and the Indianapolis Fire Department has been training responders in the unique aspects of EV and hybrid fires.
Update: we’ve since been sent the following statement about the crash from a Tesla spokesperson:
“We are deeply saddened to hear that this accident involved fatalities and we’ve been working with authorities to offer our full cooperation. Due to the damaged caused by the collision, the car was physically incapable of transmitting log data to our servers.
However, had Autopilot been engaged it would have limited the vehicle’s speed to less than 35 mph on this street, which is inconsistent with witness statements and the damage sustained.”
Update 2: The fine folks at Jalopnik have since found another video of the aftermath of the crash (below) which shows the car’s cells dramatically exploding, almost like fireworks.