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Tipsheet

'A Ticking Time Bomb': Florida Home That Survived Hurricane Burns to the Ground From EV

Paul Sakuma

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warned that hurricane-damaged electric vehicles may be “ticking time bombs” as batteries corrode from the saltwater storm surge.

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The lithium batteries are not only catching fire but are proving to be a nightmare to put out, burning at extremely high temperatures and often reigniting several times.

As state fire marshal, Patronis is asking for “immediate guidance” from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and help directly from the car manufacturers.

“On October 6th, I joined North Collier Fire Rescue to assess response activities related to Hurricane Ian and saw with my own eyes an EV continuously ignite, and continually reignite, as fireteams doused the vehicle with tens-of-thousands of gallons of water,” he said in a letter to NHTSA last week. “Subsequently, I was informed by the fire department that the vehicle, once again reignited when it was loaded onto the tow truck. Based on my conversations with area firefighters, this is not an isolated incident. As you can appreciate, I am very concerned that we may have a ticking time bomb on our hands.” 

In a video posted on social media, Patronis said two homes burned down in one night alone due to an immobilized electric vehicle catching on fire.

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Patronis said the gases are also toxic and asked the NHTSA for guidance on whether the gas masks and personal protective equipment firefighters wear adequately protects teams.

 “We need you to lean forward, partner with us and understand how we can protect our first responders, how we can save people’s homes from burning down, and create a solution to make sure we all get out of this safely and start our recovery process," he said in the video. 

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