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EVs Burst Into Flames After Contact With Saltwater During Hurricane Idalia

EVs Burst Into Flames After Contact With Saltwater During Hurricane Idalia

“Authorities said that the fires don’t happen immediately, but tend to break out several days or even up to two weeks later.”

I don’t own an EV, and I have no plans to buy one. Ever. They are super expensive, super heavy, super inconvenient, and now, apparently, super flammable. reports:

Some electric vehicles in Florida are bursting into flames after coming into contact with saltwater. Residual saltwater particles left behind on flooded batteries and battery components can conduct electricity, resulting in short circuits and eventual fires. Safety officials are urging EV owners with vehicles that flooded to take action now as fires can ignite weeks after flooding.

These spontaneous fires can occur up to two weeks after the hurricane’s water surge, so authorities are warning EV owners to park their cars at least 50 feet from any structure.

Hot Air has more:

Owners were being warned to move their EVs at least fifty feet away from any structure. That’s how serious of a fireball can be created. Authorities said that the fires don’t happen immediately, but tend to break out several days or even up to two weeks later. Apparently, as the salt water dries up it can leave behind a trail of salt that can form a “bridge” between the terminals of the EV’s batteries. And if that causes the electricity to arc across, your battery is burning and you’re off to the races.

Watch the report:


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It happens on ICE vehicles as well, but it’s much more rare.

I inspected a wrecked car some years ago — I had opened the hood and attached a jump box to power up the odometer. As I was leaving the tow yard 20 minutes later, I noticed a small bit of smoke wafting up from the vehicle. By the time I notified the office to call the FD, the car was fully involved.

We’ve seen plenty of battery vehicles burn that were flooded during the last hurricane we had in FL.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to alien. | September 2, 2023 at 9:55 pm

    Electricity passed through salt water produces hydrogen at the negative terminal. As a teen that was one of the reactions I used to get hydrogen. I filled balloons and then sent they floating in the air with a kite string fuse. Of course those cares are going to burn, and then once cells are ruptured, it gets much more interesting. I have no intention of buying an electric vehicle for other reasons, still, most of the country does not get flooded with salt water.

      leoamery in reply to JohnSmith100. | September 3, 2023 at 1:09 am

      Do you live in an area where roads are salted in the winter? Could bits of salt tossed up from the roadway cause this trouble?

      Also implies it is dangerous to drive an EV on a saltwater beach. The dry sand is loaded with salt.

        diver64 in reply to leoamery. | September 3, 2023 at 7:18 am

        I grew up in an area that salted the roads in the winter and I’ve never heard of one burning up

        alien in reply to leoamery. | September 3, 2023 at 8:27 am

        The battery pak is generally weather-proof, resistant to salt used on roads or an occasional drive on the beach.

        The problems begin when the battery is immersed in water (salt or fresh) and moisture accumulates in areas where it is normally prevented from doing so. It may not take total immersion of the vehicle (water over the roof) as the battery pak is usually mounted low in the car.

    chrisboltssr in reply to alien. | September 3, 2023 at 2:30 pm

    Yes, but thar is only of the saltwater comes into contact with anything electrical.

Who knew electric cars had so much in common with slugs.

A dose of salt is how we eliminate slugs in the PNW.

Don’t take your EV on an ocean traversing ferry. They are also being pretty mum about that car transport that burnt in the North Sea over the summer. A friend and I were just discussing the fact that cars were burning after storm surges now, and that never happened before.

Lucifer Morningstar | September 2, 2023 at 8:48 pm

So let’s see. EV batteries go up in flames if they are involved in a minor fender bender. They go up in flames in a major crash. They spontaneously ignite at random times when charging. They sometimes go up in flames when not recharging. They go up in flames when they get wet with saltwater. They go up in flames if they get wet with regular water.

And let’s not forget. When lithium batteries self-combust for any reason whatsoever they cannot be extinguished by any means and produce massive amounts of toxic & deadly gas and other toxic materials when the batteries melt that pollute our environment.

So tell me again how safe EVs are, exactly?

    There are many lithium battery and other battery chemistries’ and, I have nearly a 60Kwh battery of LiFePo4 cells, I also have many fuel tanks holding gas, diesel LP and other explosives and have never had a serious accident.


        JohnSmith100 in reply to txvet2. | September 2, 2023 at 10:59 pm

        I better understand the issues that those in Palestine 🙂

        JohnSmith100 in reply to txvet2. | September 3, 2023 at 3:03 pm

        It is a farm, and I am winding it down due to age. In the beginning I did not have heavy equipment for clearing, had huge oak tree stumps and used explosives to get them out. Later I bought a large Komatsu excavator which was much faster than auguring holes and blowing the stump.

      Anecdote ≠ data

        chrisboltssr in reply to Hodge. | September 3, 2023 at 7:43 pm

        Anecdote is data. A lot of anecdotes is just a pattern. Thankfully, many people are putting the anecdotes together on EVs and seeing a pattern that they’re not as safe and environmentally friendly as they were initially portrayed.

          You’re kidding right?

          Anecdotal evidence is evidence based only on personal observation, collected in a casual or non-systematic manner.

          When compared to other types of evidence, anecdotal evidence is generally regarded as limited in value due to a number of potential weaknesses, but may be considered within the scope of scientific method as some anecdotal evidence can be both empirical and verifiable, e.g. in the use of case studies in medicine. Other anecdotal evidence, however, does not qualify as scientific evidence, because its nature prevents it from being investigated by the scientific method. Where only one or a few anecdotes are presented, there is a larger chance that they may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases.

          However, I was responding to JohnSmith100’s commemt.

        chrisboltssr in reply to Hodge. | September 3, 2023 at 10:59 pm

        In other words, you posted something which supported my argument.

        Let me make it even more explicit for you: 100% of all humanity operates on anecdotal evidence and there is no exception. This is especially true when we all witness something. Let’s say we saw an auto accident. We all may give differing accounts with similar information, but it helps paint an accurate picture that an auto accident occurred. All of our accounts would be anecdotal, but if enough of us saw what occurred then it becomes as good as scientific evidence and it might be even better.

        People like you like to dismiss anecdotal evidence as irrelevant when for everyone anecdotal evidence is always relevant.

    How safe? If one catches fire in an attached garage, it seems that you can kiss your house goodbye. That “50 feet” distance in the article is not reassuring at all.

Capitalist-Dad | September 2, 2023 at 9:24 pm

These piece of trash vehicles of the Clinate Change scam might be status symbols for virtue signaling eco-Nazis, but they are also rolling thermite bombs

Subotai Bahadur | September 2, 2023 at 9:31 pm

These authorities who are giving these warnings seem to think that this tendency to burst into flames is a bad thing.

Subotai Bahadur

    diver64 in reply to gonzotx. | September 3, 2023 at 7:26 am

    That’s only a couple of years late. Of course Ivermectin is safe for human use, it has been used for nearly 40yrs and the Dr’s that discovered it won the Nobel Prize in 2015. Even the WHO has it on their list of essential medicines. A quick web search when it was first brought up would have told anyone that all those screaming talking heads like Riki Maddow and the Government were full of it.

I wouldn’t buy a non-stick frying pan made in China. Batteries for EVs? If made in China, I’m willing to bet that whatever it is it will inevitably break down, explode or burn. Only a matter of time. Of course, to be fair, the physics of it would probably cause an EV fire no matter where made, but with Made in China you have the added danger of shoddy workmanship.

    henrybowman in reply to Concise. | September 3, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    It all depends on the QC done in the USA. iPhones are made in China, and Apple makes sure they live up to Apple’s quality standards. On the other end of the spectrum are Ali Baba and Temu…

There’s a video on YouTube of them offloading the burned EVs from the Freemantle Highway ship

Some cars are still burning a month later

They’re dragging the cars out, hoisting them by crane into dumpster-like container of water. It immediately starts to sizzle and smoke. Then the hammer team drags a heavy tarp over it and stashes it elsewhere on the dock and let it do decontamination from afar

I can’t link from my tablet, but the YouTube channel is….

“What is Going on With Shipping? “

What kind of advice is this? Park your car far away so it will be safer when it blows up? The advice should be to make immediate arrangements to have the car inspected and fixed by a trained service station. If such an inspection and fix is not possible because the lurking danger is undetectable then these damn clown cars should not be on the road.

    In many cases, if water has gotten into the electronics and/or battery pak, the car will probably not run. It’s going to be difficult to drive the car to a dealer or move it to a safe location.

    For regular ICE vehicles, I used to declare a total loss if saltwater entered the passenger compartment, as wiring harnesses and many electronic components are located on the vehicle floor. Cars flooded with fresh water were often repairable as long as the water level didn’t rise to the level of the instrument panel.

    chrisboltssr in reply to E Howard Hunt. | September 3, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    How do you fix a pending fire disaster due to a chemical reaction? You can’t and therein lies the problem.


      When I mentioned Ford and fires, well , they have a history – which precedes the current recall, you see

      “Ford Motor Co. announced the largest safety recall by a single car manufacturer yesterday, saying it would replace the ignition switch in 8.7 million Ford and Mercury vehicles made between 1988 and 1993.

      The switches have been found to cause fires — in some cases even when the engine is off. Ford said it has received reports of 2,000 fires that may have been triggered by the faulty ignition switch, causing at least 28 minor injuries.”

      Here’s another from 2021
      The company also announced Friday that it’s recalling another 100,000 SUVs in the U.S. for a different problem that also causes engine fires.

      In May Ford recalled about 39,000 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator large SUVs in the U.S. and told owners to park them outdoors and away from buildings. On Friday the company expanded that recall to cover more than 66,000 vehicles from the 2021 model year after getting reports of five more fires.

      At the time of the first recall, Ford didn’t know what was causing the fires. But on Friday the company said it has traced the cause to printed circuit boards that are susceptible to an electrical short. The company says it has reports of 21 fires and one injury, but no reports of fires extending to buildings.

      Here’s another from 2013
      Ford has announced a recall of 6,146 model year 2013 Ford Escape vehicles equipped with 1.6-liter engines due to a defect that could result in a dislodged cylinder head freeze plug, possibly resulting in a fire.

      Finally, need we mention the Pinto?

        chrisboltssr in reply to Hodge. | September 3, 2023 at 11:06 pm

        Every auto vompany has a history of issuing recalls and there may have been issues in the past. When you’re dealing with something electrical that is always going to be the case. Also, notice that it is only a handful of vehicles being recalled, not the entire batch. A recall for a potentially faulty issue is not the same as a something that is inherently a design flaw. EV batteries are fast becoming known for spontaneous combustion even while in cooldown. You can’t recall the entire fleet of EV vehicles because there is no way to fix this. The only thing you can do is hope your car doesn’t explode.

          It’s not just the frequency of fires, but the severity. If an EV car burns, it usually started in the battery. Or if it started with an electrical short, that will probably overheat the battery until it burst and spews burning components. Either way, it’s a very hot fire that releases toxic chemicals and a lot of energy – even a fully discharged Lithium battery has a lot of energy in flammable metals – and these fires cannot be extinguished. A heavy water spray will help remove the heat, but the water itself is likely to react with Lithium and other substances in the battery.

          This is not like the lead-acid batteries in ICE cars. They don’t burn, although they can heat a shorted wire until it ignites insulation or other materials of the car. The worst that can happen with a lead-acid battery is an acid spill; that’s dangerous, but it’s relatively small.

          Most fires in ICE cars are minor. Many are caused by spilled fluids under the hood and will end when the fluid is all burned. It’s rare for these to do any worse than generate smoke. Others originate in electrical faults. (I once worked in a factory making automotive wiring subassemblies, and I’m amazed they ever manage to assemble a car that works from parts like that.) You might get a trickle of smoke that eventually stops, but then something isn’t working, You might see the fire spreading to other flammable materials in the padding and wiring runs. Very rarely, the fuel tank ignites – and this is the _only_ time that the fire is as dangerous as the typical EV fire.

If your automobile insurance has gone up considerably in the last year, I suspect that EVs are the reason. Remember, someone has to pay for that expensive toy when its destroyed. If they only charge the EV owners with the increased premium, that would be a(nother) deterrent for purchasing one, and the government would not like that.

    alien in reply to oldvet50. | September 3, 2023 at 9:07 am

    Auto insurance has gone up considerably in the past year, but not because of electric cars.

    The market was crushed by the scamdemic and the economic turmoil that followed; inventories rose and manufacturers cut back on production to address the issue. Then you had too many dollars chasing too few products. The price of used cars went through the roof. The cost of replacing lost vehicles, or “trading up” to a newer car when necessary, skyrocketed. Insurance rates had to follow suit. The market is starting to level off but at price points much higher than than they were in 2019.

      E Howard Hunt in reply to alien. | September 3, 2023 at 9:38 am

      Why difficult? Cars are towed all the time.

        You’re not supposed to tow EV’s

        chrisboltssr in reply to E Howard Hunt. | September 3, 2023 at 2:41 pm

        The problem stems from the fact an EV does not have a transmission.

        Because of regenerative breaking, EVs generally can’t ‘free wheel’ in the same way as ICE cars usually can, particularly if there are electric motors connected to both front and rear wheels. So, if you tow them with two-wheels down, as conventional tow-trucks must, it will damage those regenerative components and potentially even the batteries. This results in most EVs having to be towed on a flatbed which honestly isn’t that big of a deal anymore, at least in most car markets. While the conventional tow-trucks certainly still exist, particularly for heavier vehicles like two-ton pick-ups and trucks, the flatbed has largely become the default wrecker in the US now.

      chrisboltssr in reply to alien. | September 3, 2023 at 2:38 pm

      I would suspect the majority of your answer is correct, but I would not discount the severity associated with EV claims. I read an article where a Rivian truck owner had a fender bender and the at-fault driver’s insurance company paid him $1600 for repairs. After he got repairs, the total bill came out to $42,000.

      I also recently attended a claims seminar for EV claims and they are more expensive in every meaning of the word when it comes to repairs. You need specialized services, more space, specialized parts, and, as you mentioned in another post, the likelihood of a cat loss to an insured is higher due to potential fires which cannot be extinguished through traditional means.

      EVs are turning out to be a nightmare and not the panacea many had thought they would be.

        I’m discounting the severity of EV claims because there aren’t that many of them in the market. Subdivide that by the number of particular vehicles insured by each company.

        The severity of losses incurred by a particular make and model, is reflected in the insurance premium charged for that vehicle.

          chrisboltssr in reply to alien. | September 3, 2023 at 7:51 pm

          True, there aren’t that many, but you shouldn’t need to have too many EV claims to realize their claims severity is greater than a traditional ICE. Ironically, China is pricing EVs differently from ICE; its only a matter of time before American insurers begin to do the same.

This also happened with last year’s hurricane.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a Luddite. In fact, I’ve owned an EV since January. It’s not a Tesla. Purely as a mode of local transportation – getting groceries, commuting to work, running to the mall – it’s fine, very pleasant even. However, I don’t park it in our garage…for just this reason. Do ICE cars spontaneously combust? Yes. But, at an exponentially lesser rate than EVs do mostly because lead-acid batteries that aren’t physically damaged, are very stable whereas lithium aren’t. There’s a reason the FAA only allows lithium batteries a maximum 99 Wh per battery to be carried on-board.

But, whatever the potential for fiery explosion may or may not be with EVs, the biggest problem with them is the charging infrastructure. It simply does not exist. I live in a big city. Charging my car (which for me is not my daily driver and more of a novelty purchase) anywhere other than my home, is INCREDIBLY inconvenient. They simply are not yet ready for mass adoption. It’s not even close.

    Conservative Beaner in reply to TargaGTS. | September 3, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    It will be difficult to get the needed power to all the cities in foreseeable future.

    You need to build the power plant and also run the transmission lines. That takes time just to get permits and purchase of land. Environmental groups will fight you every step of the way. Land owners will fight you over eminent domain. This will cost lots of money all coming from the taxpayer.

      They’re decades behind in all three aspects of the charging process; the generation, the transmission and the point-of-charge networks. IOW, we simply don’t have the power generation capability that is required, as you point out. But, even if we did have the power generation capability that’s required, our transmission grid is WOEFULLY inadequate to accommodate that kind of demand. And, even if both those problems were solved, we don’t have ANYWHERE near the requisite number of charging locations.

      What drives me absolutely mad is no one in either the media or government will acknowledge these shortcomings.

        Subotai Bahadur in reply to TargaGTS. | September 3, 2023 at 5:05 pm

        If the media and the government acknowledged these shortcomings; it might lead the peasants to consider the possibility that the media and government are not omniscient and omnipotent and deserving if absolute and instant obedience.

        The amount of sarc in the above is miniscule.

        Subotai Bahadur

        markm in reply to TargaGTS. | September 5, 2023 at 6:47 pm

        We’re not only behind in building power plants, but the same politicians that want us restricted to EV’s are closing the reliable fossil fuel and nuclear plants that we need to charge them, and going for unreliable and more expensive wind and solar generation instead.

    henrybowman in reply to TargaGTS. | September 3, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    In the mid-’90s, my sister owned one of the notorious “Flaming Fords,” a van model outfitted for her mobility scooter. A factory ignition switch defect caused them to go up in flames even when they were entirely off with the key out, often just parked in your garage. And yes, the resulting garage fire caused many thousands of damage to her home as well.

    Her insurance replaced the vehicle as well, so she replaced it with… another Ford in the same recall class. It, too, caught on fire — though quick-thinking neighbors rolled it out of her garage that time before the structure became involved.

    She was a loving and generous sister, but had a distinct history of making poor choices.

Now the question is what will the insurance cover?

If the answer is not very much that will change the market a lot.

    alien in reply to Danny. | September 3, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    Insurance (comprehensive coverage, in this case) will cover the cash value of the vehicle.

    If it costs $42,000 to repair the vehicle, and that figure is within 75% or so of the value of the vehicle, insurance will likely choose to declare a total loss and pay you the value of the car (in this case, $52,500).

    chrisboltssr in reply to Danny. | September 3, 2023 at 8:01 pm

    Auto insurance would cover the vehicle up to replacement cost or actual cash value, whichever is less (and most auto policies are ACV anyway).