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Firefighters battle electric car fire for hours at Nissan HQ, used 45K gallons of water

Lawrence, Nakia


By Caleb Wethington and Marissa Sulek

Click here for updates on this story

    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — An electric vehicle at Nissan Headquarters was on fire for hours because firefighters said they had trouble putting out the flames. It’s a call the Franklin Fire Department has never had to respond to until now.

A giant cloud of smoke engulfed a Nissan Leaf Tuesday afternoon. FFD said they were out on the scene for nearly five hours.

Authorities said the car was in the Nissan HQ parking lot and was connected to a level three charging station, the fastest charging device.

“We are trained, but the reality is there is not a good solution for putting them out because it’s a stored energy supply,” Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Andy King said. “So, it really has to run its course.”

He said water doesn’t always work to put out lithium battery fires, which is why they called in reinforcement.

Calls show crews asked for a dumpster of sand or dirt, but they didn’t end up using it.

“After we talked through that, we realized sand would probably just delay the release but not really solve the problem,” King said.

In the end, Franklin Fire said they used 45,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire. For a typical car fire, that number is around 500 to 1,000 gallons.

“We are dealing with it not only as electric vehicles but also mobility devices,” King said. “Whether it’s scooters or even electric wheelchairs or any number of things.”

A scooter caused a garage fire in Maury County this summer. Two years ago, a lithium battery warehouse in Illinois forced thousands to evacuate.

That’s why King wants EV owners to be cautious when charging.

“The key is to recognize the problem early,” he said. “So, if you notice if it is overheating or off-gassing or doing anything unusual is to number one call for help quickly. And for number two, to try and put it in a safe place.”

FFD said they are not investigating the cause of the fire because there was no suspicious activity.

Nissan said they will investigate the cause. If a driver has concerns with their Leaf, they should reach out to their Nissan dealer.

The company provided the following statement:

“A small fire occurred in a company-owned vehicle on the grounds of Nissan Americas headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. The local fire department responded quickly and contained the situation. Nissan is currently investigating the cause of the incident.

Nissan has sold more than 1 million electric vehicles, which have driven billions of miles around the world without any previously documented battery-initiated fires. If a customer has concerns with their LEAF, we recommend that they consult an authorized Nissan dealer with their specific experience for diagnosis.”

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