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Parking lot fire destroys McLaren office, Tesla batteries

Original post made on Aug 7, 2022

A pallet of Tesla batteries, a McLaren business office and a Ford pickup truck went up in flames Sunday morning in a shared south Palo Alto parking lot, triggering an arson investigation.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, August 7, 2022, 9:28 AM

Comments (13)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2022 at 1:00 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Hmm, very suspicious. My first reaction was arson, pleased I'm not the only one.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 7, 2022 at 1:19 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

McLarens are very pricey as are Teslas, and I have heard it takes hours and hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to extinguish a single Tesla battery ... so they leave a pallet of Tesla batteries in the middle of an unsecured lot, as well as unsecured cars ... without having 360 degree views of video cameras going 24/7? Yeah it was arson for sure, but those car dealers need to invest at least $100 for a nannycam.

Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2022 at 1:53 pm

mjh is a registered user.

Thank you Gennady for your timely reporting about the fire.

Posted by DB
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 7, 2022 at 3:56 pm

DB is a registered user.

Just because the police have not released video footage doesn't mean they don't have it.

Great job by the firefighters for managing to put out the fire with just property damage.

Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2022 at 3:57 pm

theAlex is a registered user.

So that's what that electrical/ozone smell was this morning!

Posted by GRF
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2022 at 4:08 pm

GRF is a registered user.

I live next to the dealership. The burnt office is only about 40ft from my bedroom. I was wakened by the explosion, and then saw the bright fire outside. The fire rose by 30ft above the office, which is unusual. Some flammable things must be around the office. It's lucky that someone called 911 before I woke up. So scary. The dealerships stacked their stuffs next to the fence and leave them unattended at night, which creates potential fire safty issues.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 7, 2022 at 5:46 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Focus on the Tesla batteries, especially if they were just sitting on a pallet and not confined in fireproof containers. Their lithium batteries are unstable because their design is years outdated. Plus, some government agency, possibly the NHTSA, recommends that Tesla EV's never be charged in your garage overnight, and also that any Li Ion vehicle with greater than 80% charge never be parked within 30 feet of your house.
All of this is my recollection of what I, a "PhD rocket scientist", have read from reliable sources, so it is my opinion and not fact. I don't want a madman like Musk suing me, and that all is my opinion too. But given his alleged behavior, that could well be fact --- but I am not claiming it to be so.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 7, 2022 at 6:00 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Neither Tesla and especially not McClaren vehicles are relevant to the future of the 90+% of middle- and lower-class families in the USA. They are far too expensive and just toys for the near-rich and real rich folks to flaunt their wealth. Will we ever have TRULY affordable, long-range EV's, or is this just a fad for Socialist "progressives" and rich folks? By "affordable", I mean the price of a car like the ubiquitous Toyota Camry. Or maybe a cheap SUV or Crossover? As for the McClaren? It is just a rich folk toy.

Posted by Jarrod Palmquist
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2022 at 6:46 am

Jarrod Palmquist is a registered user.

Lithium-ion batteries are potentially dangerous when overcharged or exposed to excessive different than a far smaller smartphone battery.

Tesla's are also dangerous vehicles due to their inherent design.

These batteries should not have been left outdoors in the summer heat as spontaneous combustion is always a possibility.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 8, 2022 at 10:43 am

Online Name is a registered user.

I forwarded this article to a friend who said firemen blamed lithium batteries on a fire at a mutual friend's home. Who knew it's a common problem.

Posted by wmconlon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2022 at 10:52 am

wmconlon is a registered user.

Mr. Hitchens comment is on target.
NFPA-855 (2020) [Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems] section 14.5 governs the outdoor storage of used or off-spec lithium batteries.

Pertinent items related to Sunday's fire are:
* size -- no more than 200 square feet per pile
* separation -- minimum 20 feet from lot lines, public ways, buildings, other storage, hazardous materials, other exposure hazards

I would think that a battery pile would be at higher risk for fire than a battery in use --- as it is presumably defective and has been disconnected from the monitoring and cooling systems required for lithium batteries in service.

The Code does not specify the maximum volume of a 'pile' of batteries. I think that is an oversight that should be addressed in a future revision.

Lithium batteries are highly flammable, virtually impossible to extinguish, and the fires emit highly toxic gases, including HF. Water used to cool the battery fire may also be toxic and corrosive, and potentially hazardous to first responders and the community.

I am not sure whether Palo Alto has adopted this code, but in my view it is a minimum requirement for the use of lithium batteries for energy storage. If the council has not adopted 855, I urge immediate consideration.

Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2022 at 12:47 pm

toransu is a registered user.

@William Hitchens "Will we ever have TRULY affordable, long-range EV's, or is this just a fad for Socialist "progressives" and rich folks?"

...sweetie, do you actually know what socialist means? Because I can guarantee you no actual socialist thinks that we can avert a climate crisis via *capitalism*.

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2022 at 2:28 pm

felix is a registered user.

I love the above comment to "sweetie".
Made me feel good about things.

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