Tesla Model S catches fire twice in a day

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A Tesla Model S caught fire twice in a day. Apparently the car was first in flames Tuesday afternoon after it was taken to get a flat tire fixed in Los Gatos and again, hours later, at a Campbell auto repair shop.

“By the time fire department got there the front of the car was burning there were flames coming out," Telsa owner Kris Chellum told KTVU on Wednesday. "I’m shocked. This is my second Tesla. I just traded my old one in after four years ago. I just got this at the end of September.”

Firefighters with the Santa Clara County Fire Department extinguished the initial fire and were still at the scene at around 5:30 p.m. The car's first fire was reported around 2 p.m. at 577 University Avenue, officials said. 

The fire department said the electric car caught fire about 10 minutes after being brought to the repair shop in Campbell to fix a flat tire.

"We spent about five to six ours out there cooling the batteries down, per the manufacturer, " said  Santa Clara County Fire Battalion Chief Mark Shumate. "We cooled it down to a point where we were comfortable that it was extinguished, the manufacturer was comfortable that it was extinguished based on what we were telling them, had the car towed to this location, and then a little after 10 o'clock this evening, got a call for a vehicle fire at the Dick's towing lot out here, and here we are to extinguish the fire again."

Skyfox was above the scene where firefighters had already quickly put out the flames, but were working to cool the car before it could be towed. 

"The batteries on these things, from what Tesla engineers have told us, generate heat, so that's all the result of heat," Shumate said. "Heat builds up and anything ignitable on the car catches fire, so that's why we're here now. Now that the fire is out, just to cool the batteries down to a point where they won't cause more heat to be generated."

A Tesla spokesperson told KTVU they were investigating the matter and were in touch with first responders. "We are glad to hear that everyone is safe," the company said in a written statement. 

It is not known what caused the car to catch fire twice. Both fires are under investigation.  

Shumate said that while his team has plenty of experience fighting car fires, fighting them on Teslas is relatively new.

"All this is fairly new to us, as far as vehicle fires," he said. "We've got the training, we just don't have a lot of experience with it yet, so as far as to extinguish it, when is it extinguished vs. when it's not extinguished. Their engineers are trying to figure out just as well as we are."

As for Chellum, he's still pretty spooked.

“My biggest fear is that this happened while I’m on a highway driving, especially Highway 17," he said. "It’s not easy to pull off Highway 17 with traffic slow there. If we were on vacation, if this started a fire in the garage while I was on vacation, the whole house would’ve burned down.”