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Fire Departments spend 2 1/2 hours extinguishing fire after electric vehicle bursts into flames on Route 95

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Photo courtesy of Wakefield Fire Department

WAKEFIELD — Several fire departments and mutual aid partners responded to a single-vehicle crash and electric vehicle fire on Interstate 95 on Thursday night.

According to Provisional Fire Chief Tom Purcell, just after 10:45 p.m., the Wakefield Fire Department and Massachusetts State Police responded to a single-vehicle crash in the northbound lanes of I-95 near Exit 59.

Upon arrival, companies led by Capt. John Walsh, found a Tesla electric vehicle wedged onto the guardrail in the right breakdown lane. The 38-year-old driver of the vehicle declined medical attention at the scene.

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. The vehicle became fully involved in fire.

A full box alarm assignment was ordered per Shift Command, and a Lynnfield engine company was called to the scene as well. Wakefield Engine 1 and Ladder 1 initiated suppression operations, applying copious amounts of water onto the vehicle.

Multiple surrounding mutual aid communities responded as well to support firefighting operations and to create a water shuttle to bring water continually to the scene. Engines from Melrose, Stoneham, Reading, Lynnfield as well as a Middleton water tanker assisted.

Firefighters had three 1 3/4inch hand lines as well as a “blitz gun” in operation to cool the battery compartment.

Provisional Chief Thomas Purcell arrived and assumed overall command of the incident with Capt. Walsh handling fire ground operations. Lynnfield Fire Chief Glenn Davis was also on scene as Lynnfield crews established a continuous 4-inch supply line from Vernon Street up to the highway.

The fire was declared under control and fully extinguished after about 2 1/2 hours. More than 20,000 gallons of water were used.

A Department of Fire Services Hazmat Team responded and the Department of Environmental Protection was notified. The vehicle was removed from the scene after consulting with the Hazmat Unit.

The Saugus Fire Department’s Engine 1 covered Wakefield fire headquarters during the incident. Massachusetts State Police controlled traffic, with flow diverted to one lane in a driving snow storm at the height of operations.

“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 Provisional Chief Purcell. “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.

“The crews did a great job, especially in the middle of storm conditions – on a busy highway. All responding mutual aid companies from the surrounding communities that assisted were fantastic and greatly helped the Wakefield Fire Department in controlling the incident.”

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Fed Up

    January 20, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    And Maura Stealy wants 1 million on the road post haste.

  2. I love Massachusetts!

    January 20, 2023 at 4:39 pm

    They’re already getting better, more efficient and there’s a new chemistry coming that won’t have this problem and twice the range. Ever seen an ICE vehicle carbecue with a full tank? Especially when the fuel tank ruptures and it goes up in flames lighten up the whole neighborhood? But hey the Luddite above just doesn’t get it! Either change comes or mankind goes extinct. Probably too late anyhow because humans are just smart enough and greedy enough to get themselves into deep shit! Just look at the IQ of the average commenter on this website.

    How about that tanker that tipped over under the overpass in Rhode Island years ago? Can you imagine not needing deadly tankers anymore? I was working outdoors when that happened and just happened to be looking and then that direction and saw the mushroom cloud that came up. Unfortunately that kind of thing happens more than you know and of course there’s the pollution when gasoline and oil leaks.

  3. MortisMaximus

    January 20, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    Electric cars were created in the 1800’s. There is a reason the gas engine has been the dominant mode of transportation for more than a century. But hey these new know it all fascist liberals are going to save us from something that has advanced us to the modern society we enjoy today. Get the hell out of my life and my choices you psychotic fascists. I will not accept your one party rule over the minds of men.

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