Tesla fire in Dunedin, Florida (Palm Harbor Fire Rescue)
01 Sep 2023

EV caught fire after being flooded by Storm Idalia - Florida Fire services urge residents to remove EVs out of hurricane disaster area


A Tesla caught fire while being towed after being flooded in Hurricane Idalia in the Florida Tampa Bay region,  the Pinellas Park Fire Department said.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, Florida has the second-highest amount of registered electric vehicles in the United States.  As of July 2023, the Sunshine State had nearly 168,000 electric automobiles.

After reaching the shores of Florida as a Category 3 storm early Wednesday,  Idalia has swept out to sea off the coast of North Carolina. The storm has caused a lot of flooding in some areas. 

The official cause of why the EV caught fire is unknown, Fox Weather reports. However, firefighters said the electric vehicle was submerged along the coast. This raised suspicions that saltwater likely played a role in the fire.

During previous weather events, like Hurricane Ian in 2022,  where water has compromised batteries, electric vehicles have also caught fire. 

"We sprayed about 200 gallons per minute at the car, and it took us about 45 minutes to extinguish," the fire department said.

"If you own a hybrid or electric vehicle that has come into contact with saltwater due to recent flooding within the last 24 hours, it is crucial to relocate the vehicle from your garage without delay," firefighters in Palm Harbor warned.

"Saltwater exposure can trigger combustion in lithium-ion batteries. If possible, transfer your vehicle to higher ground."

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said: 

"If you’re evacuating and leaving an EV, or other lithium-ion powered devices like scooters or golf carts in your garage, you’re creating a real fire threat for your home, your communities, and first responders," Patronis said.

"Take this threat seriously. If there’s even a small risk of your EV being impacted by storm surge, move it to higher ground before it’s too late."



Photo Credit: (Cover Photo above) Tesla fire in Dunedin, Florida (Palm Harbor Fire Rescue)