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Facing a New Challenge

As technology evolves and the old exists alongside the new, there is the inevitable period of unfamiliarity and fear. Some of that unfamiliarity can be dangerous — even deadly, as evidenced by the death near Cincinnati of a driver whose Tesla caught fire and proved a challenge for first responders.

After going off the side of the road and hitting a boulder and two trees, the Tesla was quickly engulfed in flames. A bystander said he heard an explosion. It appears the Tesla’s battery may have added to the challenge.

“A standard car fire, typically, once we get the fire extinguished, it’s out, it’s done, we’re good to go,” said Capt. Mike Masterson of the Pierce Township Fire Department. “What we’re finding with this one is the batteries are shorting out on us, and they just keep generating heat and keep reigniting.”

We need to ensure firefighters and other first responders are given the right tools and tactics for handling such accidents. That means Tesla and other electric vehicle makers do have a responsibility to find out what those tools and tactics should be for first responders. They and the NTSB owe it to those who have already been affected by such fires to ensure they are doing everything possible to prevent another tragedy.

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