Tesla didn’t have much to say about one of its cars catching fire in California on Saturday, but the car’s owner managed to work up a few words.
“I’m just so lucky to be alive,” Bishal Malla of the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove told KCRA-TV in Sacramento.
Malla told the outlet that he was finishing up some errands and was about to return home to pick up his family for a party when the car started shaking.
Thinking he had a flat tire, Malla pulled over on Highway 99 and got out of the car. That’s when he realized what the problem actually was.
“The moment that I opened the door, I saw smoke coming from the bottom,” he said.
Malla said he had heard of previous fires involving electric vehicles, so he called 911 right way. The Cosumnes Fire Department responded.
“I’m just speechless right now,” Malla told the outlet.
So, apparently, was Tesla. KCRA reached out to the EV company for comment, but apparently received no response.
EV fires are difficult to extinguish because of the tremendous heat involved from the vehicles’ powerful batteries. The good news for EV owners is that gas-fueled and hybrid vehicles are far, far more likely to catch fire in the first place.
Data from various government sources analyzed by AutoinsuranceEZ showed that gas vehicles were 61 times as likely to be involved in a fire than electric vehicles. Hybrids were even worse: more than 138 times more likely than EVs to catch fire.
Perhaps more significantly, the site showed more than five times as many fire-risk-related recalls for gas vehicles compared to EVs, even though there are roughly 100 times as many gas vehicles on the road.
However, while EV fires are far less common than those occurring in gas-fueled vehicles, they are generally far more difficult to put out, leading to total destruction of the vehicle.
“The issue with the electric vehicles is access to the batteries,” Battalion Chief Robert Kasparian of the Cosumnes Fire Department told KCRA. “The batteries are what are causing the enormous amount of heat buildup.
“A lot of times fire departments will just let the vehicle burn until it’s down to the point where they can actually access the batteries and put water or firefighting foam on the batteries themselves.”
“Even after it’s towed to whatever tow yard it’s going to,” he added, “a lot of times, the tow yards will submerge the vehicle in water to keep those batteries from flaring up several hours later and causing another fire.”
He added that, in Malla’s case, the cause of the fire remained unclear.
For Bishal Malla, the cause would appear to be irrelevant.
While he told KCRA that he’d be coordinating with his insurance provider regarding a replacement vehicle, his new car was definitely going to run on gasoline.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.