FIREFIGHTERS FROM LYNNFIELD and surrounding departments had to use over 20,000 gallons of water to extinguish a Tesla fire on Route 95 North by Exit 59 on Thursday, Jan. 19. (Lynnfield Fire Department Photo)
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Fire Department responded to two separate fires late last week, including an electric vehicle blaze that occurred on Route 95 North.
Provisional Chief Tom Purcel stated in a press release that Wakefield firefighters and Massachusetts State Police responded to a single-vehicle crash involving a 38-year-old man operating a Tesla at 10:47 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19. The accident occurred after he lost control of the car during a snowstorm and crashed into a guardrail on Route 95 North by Exit 59. The driver declined medical attention at the scene.
After Wakefield firefighters and state police arrived at the scene, Purcel stated that first responders discovered the Tesla “wedged onto the guardrail in the right breakdown lane.”
“As the vehicle was being prepared for removal from the scene, the guardrail pieced the undercarriage, causing the lithium-ion batteries to go into a thermal runaway,” Purcel stated. “The vehicle became fully involved in fire.”
Lynnfield Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Glenn Davis said in an interview with the Villager that Lynnfield firefighters responded to the Tesla fire at 11:32 p.m. He responded to the blaze along with Engine 2, Engine 4 and additional first responders.
“We were at the scene scene for two-and-a-half hours,” said Davis. “Over 20,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire.”
Davis said electric vehicle fires have become a major area of concern for firefighters. He noted that firefighters cannot use firefighting foam to extinguish electric vehicle fires.
“Conventional firefighting foam is not effective because it generates its own oxygen,” said Davis. “Foam encapsulates a liquid fire such as a fire caused by gasoline or fuel oil, and puts it out by starving it from oxygen. That doesn’t work with these because lithium-ion batteries generate it’s own heat source and it’s own environment to burn. It’s extremely hot and the smoke is very toxic, which is a huge concern.”
“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,” said Purcell in a press release. “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 and 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.”
Davis said the Reading, Melrose, Stoneham and Middleton Fire Departments provided mutual aid in order to provide the necessary water needed to fight the Tesla blaze.
“As usual, great collaboration from local fire departments was crucial,” said Davis. “Rehab Five was also at the scene to assist with crew support.”
Todd Lane fire
Lynnfield firefighters also responded to a fire at a cabana located at 6 Todd Ln. at 11:42 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21.
“The fire occurred in a cabana next to the pool,” said Davis. “The cabana is about 20-foot by 30-foot, and has a fireplace. The residents who live at the home frequently use the fireplace, and what happened was a chimney fire spread to the wall and into the attic. The fire was quickly knocked down. There were no injuries.”
Davis said the fire resulted in “significant damage” to the cabana.
“We had to cut a couple of vent holes in the roof and the wall had to be opened up for access to the fire,” said Davis. “It suffered extensive damage. The family was not displaced because the fire did not spread to the house. They were able to remain on scene safe.”
Davis said the Middleton and North Reading Fire Departments also responded to the blaze as well as Rehab Five.
“Wakefield, Lynn and Reading Fire provided station coverage,” said Davis. “The Lynnfield DPW was also quick to respond to sand the street from the freezing water conditions. It was another example of a solid mutual aid network working.”