Electric Vehicle Fires

July 2024

Electric vehicle fire incidents are increasing.

Electric vehicle fires are less common than gas-powered car fires.  When they occur, these fires are different and can be more difficult to extinguish.

Electric vehicles contain lithium-ion batteries, similar to those used in many household devices but much larger.  When damaged, these batteries can cause a chemical reaction leading to uncontrollable self-heating, described as “thermal runaway.”  This can occur when a battery gets punctured.

Once a battery fire starts, it can quickly spread between battery cells while burning hotter than gas fires and be more prone to re-igniting.  Lithium-ion battery fires don’t require oxygen to burn so can be harder to extinguish.  They can require 20 times more water than a comparable gas fire.

Larger electric trucks and SUVs require even larger batteries which cause larger, hotter and more difficult to extinguish fires.