The two car garage next door to my friend blew up Sunday afternoon. The 13 year old son was just going into the house from the garage when it happened, and he had spatter burns on his arms and upper body. The two rear tires of a minivan and the two rear tires of a 3-6 month old Prius were burned away. The glass on both cars was blown out. The garage door was destroyed. The back end of the Prius was completely blown out.
The firemen assumed it was a gas leak from the water heater in the garage. It showed only some black spots on its exterior. The kid did not mention the odor of gas.
My friend is an experienced aircraft accident investigator, and thinks the fire dept. didn't want to find the Prius at fault. The Prius has 200-400 pounds of lithium-ion batteries.
Unfortunately, my friend didn't get any pix, and it didn't even make the local news.
I hope he works with the insurance investigators.
The fireman probably are not trained enough to recognize the ion battery problem. And there is enough money behind Toyota for it to not easy to learn about.
I am on the board of directors at the local department and I have mentioned lack of training in this particular field and it seems to be common that hardly anyone know how to fight a fire related to these car battery's. I told the other members, we should find and pay for our men to get trained if at all possible because this is serious business.
I had some training in arson detection and such when I was a fireman. Not hard to find the origin of a fire if you know anything at all.
One of the first things that comes to my mind, is that gasoline fumes in the garage ignited by a hot water heater would NOT likely blow out the back end of the Prius that way.
Several years ago, there were a bunch of cell phones that ignited fires. Sometimes inside people's pockets. I had one that got hot enough to almost not pick it up. I got a new phone a couple days later. Even a common 'D' cell battery can start a fire under the right conditions. Enough battery power to push a car to 70 mph would be much more likely to do something nasty.
I would hope the Fire Department would want to seek the truth, and inform the people. Everybody loses when the truth is covered up for "political reasons".
My best wishes to your friends, Ralph.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Ralph, My son attended a fire training event last year in OC, guess what they trained on... yep, a Prius. The potential is real, and the FD's are concerned, of course right after the training the local Cal Fire stations were told that funds were being cut for chemical foam retardants...about the only thing that works on vehicle battery fires.
The thing about some battery types is they can go into a thermal runaway condition. That is, once they hit a certain internal temperature (often kicked off by a high discharge rate), the chemical reaction inside just keeps getting hotter and hotter until it blows up. At some point, the problem cell will likely heat up one or more neighbouring cells and start them on a runaway too. Once a battery pack goes 'pop' in a little burst of smoke and flame, beware that it will likely do that over and over again until all the cells have gone off.
I watched an FAA training video on it not too long ago (except they were researching how to fight laptop fires on board an aircraft) and what they had found as the only effective way to stop the chain reaction was to cool it by pouring various nonflammable liquids on top. Interestingly, pouring ice on didn't help as it trapped more heat than it dissipated.
For this reason, I'll never charge my LiPo model airplane battery packs without being in the room with them.
It would be interesting to know which Prius it was, a Hybrid or a Plug-in. The basic difference is that the plug-in has more batteries for extended driving without running the ICE (internal combustion engine).
Tim is correct - it happened to a Boeing 787 in Boston a couple of years ago. Fire departments should know how to handle these types of fires. Lithium ion batteries are going to continue to grow in number as more and more people purchase plug-ins and hybrids.
Yes Tim: We are told over and over again not to leave our batteries for our RC models unattended while charging. I charge mine in a crock jar and baby sit with them. All it takes is once!!!
Jumping to a conclusion without a shred of evidence is groundless, therefore I think it is bad practice to question the integrity of the firemen. Plus I don't know of any Firemen/Honda conspiracy to flood the world with electric cars. So....I'd wait for the after-action honest report. Anything else is pure speculation and worth zero. IMHO.
Thank you James, for bringing a bit of logic.
Well we know James isn't a pro Prius conspirator now! It's Toyota, James... Just for the record.
The plug in prius is lithium battery, but the regular Toyota hybrids are still ni-mh. They have built millions of these cars and are actually great. I think more Gm, Ford and Volkswagen products have burned up. I would worry about it! Oh by the way, if I just drive careful and at the speed limit I average a real 70mpg! More gas to put in the t!
would not worry about it! opps