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How Does The Tesla Model S Ace Safety Tests, But Catch on Fire?

PHOTO: A firefighter arrives to extinguish a burning Tesla Model S on Washington State Route 167 outside of Seattle.
In this image from a YouTube video, a firefighter arrives to extinguish a burning Tesla Model S on Washington State Route 167 outside of Seattle.
AJ Gill/YouTube

Tesla’s better-than-perfect safety rating was called into question based on a technicality. But a Model S owner in Seattle might have a bit more reason to question Tesla’s safety record.

The car owner saw his high-performance electric vehicle catch fire on Tuesday.

Kyle Ohashi, a captain with the Kent Fire Department that responded to the fire, said an unidentified metal object hit the bottom of the vehicle. “The car gave the driver a warning to stop and pull over,” he told ABC News. “He got out and smoke started coming out of the car, followed by the fire.”

WHAT TO KNOW

The fire was started by a metal object striking the Model S’s underside.
Both electric cars and gasoline-powered cars can catch on fire.
The government shutdown prevents NHTSA from looking into the issue further for now.

The Model S battery’s 16 modules are located underneath the car, protected by a steel plate. “Each module within the battery pack is, by design, isolated by fire barriers to limit any potential damage,” said Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, a spokeswoman for Tesla Motors. “The fire in the battery pack was contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle.”

The exact cause of the Model S fire is not yet known.
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