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April 23, 2019

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Tesla launches inquiry after car catches fire

Electric carmaker Tesla is investigating an incident in which one of its vehicles is believed to have burst into flames at a downtown residential complex in Shanghai.

People living in three high-rise blocks at Taide Huayuan in the Xujiahui area were evacuated on Sunday evening when a fire broke out in an underground garage.

Fire brigade spokesman Tang Yu said the blaze was considered to have started under the car, but whether from the battery pack or the chassis had yet to be determined.

The owner of the car, a man surnamed Dong, said it was not being charged at the time.

“After finding out about this incident in Shanghai, we immediately sent a team to the scene,” Tesla said on its Weibo account. “We are currently contacting relevant departments to confirm the situation. Based on current information, no one was injured.”

A video shared on Weibo, thought to be from a surveillance camera in the garage, showed a Tesla Model S starting to emit smoke before bursting into flames. Another video showed at least two badly damaged cars nearby.

The fire brigade said it sent 15 fire trucks to the scene at 8:39pm and put out the fire by 9:18pm. It also said no one was injured.

The fire occurred on the first level of the two-level underground garage. An Audi and a Lexus were also damaged, according to fire authorities.

The garage was cordoned off due to the risk of explosion and the high density of sulfides and carbon monoxide after the blaze. Residents whose cars were parked there still had not been able to remove their vehicles by yesterday evening.

Some residents said there was still a pungent smell in the air inside the residential complex.

A resident whose car was parked on the same level told Shanghai Daily: “Some people rushed into the garage for their cars but were driven out very soon, and some even got choked by the smoke and were taken to the hospital.”

He said about 50 to 60 cars were parked inside the garage at the time of the incident.

When he returned to the residential complex at 8:30pm on Sunday, the air was “hazy,” he said.

According to local news portal, the Tesla owner said he parked in the garage about 7:40pm and was told about the fire at 9pm.

He said the car, which was about three-and-a-half years old, had not had any serious problems, and nothing unusual had happened on Sunday.

He told Shanghai TV that there wouldn’t have be any inflammable material in the car, and that he didn’t smoke.

Just last month, a spontaneous fire in a Tesla S was reported in Guangzhou, southern Guangdong Province, the incident also taking place in an underground garage.

The garage’s sprinkler system quickly doused the flames and no one was injured. The car was not being charged at that time.


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