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Electric vehicles explode from water damage after Hurricane Ian, top Florida official warns

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A top Florida state official warned on Thursday that firefighters have been fighting a number of fires caused by electric vehicle (EV) batteries flooded by Hurricane Ian.

EV batteries that have been soaked in the aftermath of the hurricane are at risk of corrosion, which can lead to unexpected fires, according to Jimmy Patronis, the state’s top finance official and fire chief.

“A lot of electric cars have been shut down by Ian. As those batteries corrode, fires start,” Patronis tweeted Thursday. “That’s a new challenge that our firefighters haven’t taken on before. At least on this scale.”

“Special training and understanding of EVs is needed to ensure these fires are extinguished quickly and safely,” he continued in a follow-up tweet. “Thanks to [North Collier Fire Rescue] for their hard work.”

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Patronis published a video of firefighters in Naples, Florida battling a fire that had started from the battery of a Tesla EV. In the video, a bystander can be heard saying that the crew used hundreds of liters of water to put out the fire.

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Last week, Hurricane Ian devastated cities along Florida’s west coast, including Naples and Fort Myers, and made landfall as a Category 4 storm that left more than 100 dead and more than a million residents without power.

It’s unclear how many EVs were affected or destroyed by the storm.

Firefighters try to put out a fire that started with a soggy electric vehicle after Hurricane Ian hit Florida’s west coast.
(Jimmy Patronis/Twitter)

Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly turning to EVs as the Biden administration continues to drive a green transition with zero-emission cars. According to Kelley Blue Book, EVs accounted for 5.6% of new car purchases in the US between April and June, slightly more than in the first three months of 2022.

Shortly after taking office, President Biden announced a goal to ensure that by 2030, 50% of new car sales would be electric cars.

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The Biden administration has also taken a number of steps to encourage Americans to switch to electric vehicles. The president signed the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that included a provision granting Americans a tax credit worth $7,500 per EV purchase, into law in August, and the Department of Transportation has been working to create a federal network for charging EV highways.

However, critics have destroyed the administration for giving a “false impression” about EVs, noting that they are expensive and often unreliable.

“[The EV push] is really a scam,” Myron Ebell, the director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, told FOX Business in July. “It can be a good deal for some people in some places under certain circumstances. But overall it’s not a good deal at the moment.”