Lithium-ion batteries were melting in extreme heat
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Vehicle fires are fairly frequent on the High Desert, especially during the summertime. But when electric vehicles catch fire, as did one west of Redmond Monday morning, special precautions have to happen for firefighter safety.
Redmond Fire & Rescue units were dispatched shortly before 9 a.m. to the reported electric car fire in the 8900 block of Cliff Swallow Drive in the Eagle Ridge neighborhood, near Eagle Crest Resort, Battalion Chief Ken Brown said.
The first engine crew to arrive reported that the Jaguar I-Pace electric vehicle was fully involved, with close exposures to a chalet condominium and two large juniper trees, Brown said.
“Crews made a quick initial knockdown, but called for reinforcements, as the severely damaged batteries posed a unique firefighting obstacle,” Brown said in a news release.
Most car fires can be doused with a single fire engine’s water tank. But with this model, the battery that powers the motor and other elements of the car is made of high-energy density lithium-ion pouch cells that span the width of the car and are positioned as low as possible, between the axles front to rear, the battalion chief said.
The batteries were melting in the extreme heat, Brown said, and the flammable metal was difficult to fully extinguish. Several dry-chemical fire extinguishers were used, along with “copious amounts of water to fully douse all flames and heat,” Brown said.
Crews were on the scene for nearly two hours. Brown said the car, fully insured, was a total loss.
There were no injuries reported. Brown said the cause of the fire was under investigation.