The Phoenix Flyer

Officials warn of fire risks in electric vehicles that Ian flooded with salt water

By: - October 14, 2022 3:18 pm

Electric vehicle caught on fire in Southwest Florida due to it being submerged in saltwater on October, 11, 2022. Credit: North Collier Fire Rescue District’s Facebook page

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, first responders in Southwest Florida are concerned about a new threat: electric vehicles catching on fire caused by saltwater.

Not only did the massive storm cause destruction of buildings, schools, and homes on the coast; it also resulted in major saltwater flooding.

Damaged EVs that have been submerged in saltwater “could result in potential fire once no longer submerged,” according to an alert posted on Facebook this week by the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District.

Firefighters in Naples have responded to at least six electric vehicles that caught fire and are asking EV owners in the area “to please get it towed away from your home BUT you must make sure the towing operator knows how to safely and properly tow EV vehicles,” according to the Facebook post.

Some of these fires have burned down homes. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said in a video posted on Twitter that “our first responders are being put in harm’s way and then people’s personal homes that may have survived the storm are now being burned down.”

Patronis also serves as the state’s fire marshal.

In a letter on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, called on the U.S. Department of Transportation “to develop safety protocols to properly caution consumers about this risk posed by EVs submerged in saltwater.”

The National Transportation Safety Board says on its website that it has “examined national and international standards established to maximize the safety of electric vehicles.”

The agency wrote:

“Particular attention was given to the emergency guidance documents supplied by vehicle manufacturers to mitigate the safety risks to first and second responders who deal with electric vehicle crashes and high-voltage lithium-ion battery fires.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.