In June 2022, a Tesla that had been in a crash was being stored at an Exeter auction house for used cars when it started to burn.
It was a Saturday and with no one at the business, Copart, the burning car went unnoticed until a motorist saw smoke when driving nearby. By the time firefighters got there, 23 vehicles were ablaze.
A Target 12 town-by-town survey of fire departments and the state’s top fire official found the Tesla blaze at Copart was the only electric-vehicle fire firefighters have dealt with in Rhode Island to date.
And the National Transportation Safety Board estimates vehicles powered primarily with a battery are 60% less likely to catch fire than a traditional internal combustible engine. But fire departments statewide are studying and preparing for how to handle these fires, which can trickier to put out than conventional car fires.