Tesla that caught fire in Los Gatos reignites at auto shop in Campbell

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Tesla that caught fire in Los Gatos reignites at auto shop in Campbell
A Tesla Model S caught fire twice in one day in the South Bay. It all started as a simple tire pressure issues and ended up in flames.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- A Saratoga man's effort to fix a flat tire ends in the destruction of his new Tesla Model S.

The front of the car burst into flames, just minutes after it was towed to Los Gatos Tire and Auto Repair on University Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. Then, later on, that evening, the car reignited at an auto shop in Campbell.

The owner, who did not want to share his name, shared cellphone video with ABC7 News showing flames only moments after his car was towed to the Los Gatos Tire and Auto Repair lot.

"I go in there, doing the paperwork and I start hearing a funny hissing sound," the owner said. "I thought, oh, it must be something going on in the shop next door."

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Following the hissing sound came the smoke, then the spark.

Santa Clara County Fire was called out around 2 p.m. and quickly put out the blaze. However, crews recognized the potential for reigniting.

"Shortly after that, however, it was noticed that the vehicle was off-gassing," Capt. Bill Murphy explained. "Which is an indication that heat or a lot of energy built up in the battery still."

Crews spent nearly six hours waiting for the car battery to cool, before it was towed from the lot.

The owner explained he was driving along Highway 17 when a sensor went off, alerting him about a quick drop in tire pressure.

"Then, it said again it was dropping to 20. So then I pulled off," he said.

What should've been a routine flat fix, then turned into fire.

The owner says he purchased the car three months ago and drove the Model S only 1,200 miles.

More video, taken by witness Brad Basford, is being added to a growing album of fires involving Tesla vehicles. Santa Clara County Fire explained the vehicles run on electricity stored in battery packs in the floor of the vehicle.

"We train for vehicle fires, absolutely. Electric vehicles provide a slightly different component to that," Captain Murphy said. "In this case, the batteries just require a little bit different process for us to make sure the car's safe."

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Tesla released this statement to ABC7 News, responding to Tuesday's incident: "We are currently investigating the matter and are in touch with local first responders. We are glad to hear that everyone is safe."

The Model S owner told ABC7 News, this is the last Tesla his family will own.

"If this had been in the house, and we were on vacation, and this thing caught fire in the garage, the whole house could go under," he said.

Santa Clara County firefighters say they will be stationing crews with the car all night to put out any more fires that may erupt.

Take a look at more stories and videos about Tesla.