LITHIUM-ION batteries became compromised and led to an intense blaze in a Tesla electric vehicle on Route 128 last night. Wakefield firefighters and a host of others needed thousands of gallons of water to douse the flames. (Photos courtesy of the Wakefield Fire Department)


WAKEFIELD — Firefighters from Wakefield and the surrounding area threw thousands of gallons of water at a fire caused when an electric vehicle’s lithium-ion battery array went into a “thermal runaway” on Route 128 near the Lynnfield line last night in the middle of a snow storm.

At about 10:50 p.m. local firefighters went to a reported single vehicle crash on Route 128 north near the Vernon Street exit. Upon arrival responding companies, led by Captain John Walsh, found a Tesla EV wedged onto the guard rail in the right breakdown lane.  The 38-year old male operator had self-extricated, was not injured and refused medical attention.  The Massachusetts State Police were also on scene.

As the vehicle was being prepared for removal from the scene, the guard-rail pieced the undercarriage causing the lithium-ion batteries to go into a thermal runaway – and the vehicle became fully involved in fire.  A full box alarm assignment was ordered per Shift Command as well as a Lynnfield pump to the scene.  Engine 1 and Ladder 1 initiated suppression operations – applying copious amounts of water onto the vehicle.

Multiple surrounding towns were summoned to the scene for manpower in firefighting operations and in order to create a water shuttle to get continuous water to the scene for fire suppression efforts.  Engines from Melrose, Stoneham, Reading, Lynnfield as well as a Middleton water tanker assisted at the scene.  The Department had three 1¾” hand lines as well as a “blitz gun” in operation in order to cool the battery compartment.

Wakefield Acting Chief Thomas Purcell arrived and assumed overall command of the incident with Captain Walsh handling fireground operations. Lynnfield Chief Glenn Davis was also on scene as Lynnfield crews established a continuous 4-inch supply line from Vernon Street up onto the highway.

After approximately 2.5 hours and 20,000 plus gallons of water applied to the area of the vehicle battery, the fire was declared under control and fully extinguished.  State Haz-mat responded and the DEP were notified.  The vehicle was removed from the scene after consulting with the Massachusetts State Haz-mat Unit.

Saugus Engine 1 covered Wakefield fire headquarters during the incident.

Massachusetts State Police controlled traffic flow during the incident – with traffic flow diverted to one lane during the height of operations conducted in a driving snow storm.

Acting Chief Purcell said, “As sales of electric and hybrid vehicles increase, the fire service is continuing to modify our tactics to properly respond, protect property and firefighters as well as control these types of fires. Fighting vehicle fires is inherently dangerous. When responding to an electric or hybrid vehicle fire there are additional challenges responding crews must consider.  Fire companies on the scene of an electrical vehicle fire should expect longer time frames to manage/ control EV vehicle fires, ensure that large, continuous, sustainable water supply is established, as well as maintain heightened situational awareness and prepare for secondary fires.”  The crews did a great job, especially in the middle of storm conditions – on a busy highway.  All responding mutual aid companies from the surrounding communities that assisted were fantastic and greatly helped the Wakefield Fire Department in controlling the incident.”


Here are some examples of calls to police yesterday and early today:


At about 8 a.m. an officer helped a student and a teacher involved in a car accident exchange paperwork on Hemlock Road.

A mid-size brown and white dog running around Greenwood Avenue around 9:45 a.m. was reunited with its owner.

On-going harassment between Preston Street neighbors was dealt with around 1:15 p.m.

A white dog trying to enter a home on Line Road was picked up by the town’s Animal Control officer around 3 p.m.

A stolen license plate was reported on Audubon Road around 3:30 p.m.

Advice was given after police were told that roommates were having an issue around 4 p.m.

Having exhausted all means of communicating with the owner, a vehicle was towed from the Four Points by Sheraton hotel lot on Audubon Road around 4:30 p.m.

A delivery driver was waiting for assistance following a mechanical problem with his vehicle on Butternut Road around 5:10 p.m.

Someone was in need of physical assistance in a Greenwood medical office around 5:10 p.m.

An on-going issue with traffic lights at Prospect Street and North Avenue was reported around 5:25 p.m.


Police reported that the road surfaces were beginning to ice up around 12:50 a.m. The DPW was notified.

An alarm sounded for no apparent reason on Walton Street around 2:20 a.m.

A rear warehouse motion detector went off in a Teal Road building around 2:40 a.m.