CORRECTION: 22 firefighters were needed (not 22 brigades).
The burned out vehicle and unstable batteries had to be submerged in a container full of water for days to keep them from reigniting.
The German online HNA daily here reports how a VW Golf 8 Hybrid vehicle suddenly “exploded” Saturday evening before bursting into flames seconds later. The blast could be heard kilometers away, and the street was so damaged that it had to be closed.
Hat-tip: Bernd Felsche
Last Saturday evening a couple was driving their new VW Golf 8 Hybrid vehicle, when suddenly it exploded and burst into flames. The driver and her 46-year-old partner said there was a sudden blue flash and a very powerful explosion that sent all the windows flying out of the vehicle,” The HNA reports.
“The explosion bang was so loud that it was even heard several kilometers away.”
Though the driver and passenger suffered only minor injuries, they were just able to escape into the open air. The car burst into flames just seconds after the explosion.
Firefighters from Hilgershausen said the car was burning brightly in the middle of the road when they arrived.
Days needed to fully extinguish reigniting battery
Due to the materials used to manufacture the hybrid vehicle battery, extinguishing the fire was a real challenge and required monitoring by thermographic camera, special breathing apparatus and lots of water.
“But the reactions in the burning batteries kept causing the flames to flare up,” reported the HNA. “To make matters worse for the firefighters, temperatures of 16°C below freezing caused the extinguishing water on the road to freeze immediately.”
Also the extinguished battery kept rapidly reheating and each time had to be doused with water, which froze on the street and led to a centimeters thick ice sheet building up. Once the wreckage was finally hauled away, it had to be submerged in a container full of water to make sure the batteries did not reignite.
“The vehicle then has to stand in here for several days until there is no longer any danger of it flaring up again due to the reactions of the cells in the batteries,” reported the HNA.
Damaged street had to be closed off
Not only was the new car totaled, but also the asphalt road surface was severely damaged and the street had to be closed off.
“A total of 22 fire brigades from Hilgershausen and the city center were on the scene of the fire under the direction of the city fire chief Stefan Dippel,” reports the HNA.
Fire hazard: German town bans e-cars from parking garage
The fire risks posed by electric cars are well known, so much so that the Bavarian town of Kulmbach has just banned electric and hybrid vehicles from parking inside parking garages because their batteries are so difficult to extinguish when fire starts.
According to German online weekly FOCUS here, “This was decided by the city in consultation with the fire brigade for the underground car park under Eku-Platz, as first reported by the portal InFranken.de.”
Battery fires “dramatic”, too difficult to extinguish
In the event of an electric or hybrid vehicle battery fire, extinguishing it would take too long and the heat generated could lead to extensive structural damage to the parking garage.
FOCUS reports: “A steel floor can withstand heat for a certain time, but if too much heat is applied, the concrete will burst and the iron will melt. Then there would be a danger of collapse. At least that is the city’s reasoning for this unusual step.”
Battery fires rare, but “dramatic”
VW says that fires involving electric and hybrid vehicles are rare and that experts deem the new vehicles with lithium ion batteries to be generally safe. However, in the event a fire should erupt, it tends to be more dramatic.
Video below shows one charging electric car in China bursting into flames.
In general, at home it’s really not a bad idea to park these vehicles outdoors, on the street – away from other property, and not inside your garage.