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Electric vehicle explodes inside owner's garage after residents are forced to evacuate at 6 a.m.​

Andrew ChapadosApril 01, 2024
Homeowners of an electric vehicle were forced out of their home at 6 a.m. when a vehicle in their garage caught fire and then exploded as firefighters waited for backup.

Fire crews responded to a distress call from an alarm company in Boulder, Colorado, to a family home at 6:08 a.m. Upon arrival, crews noted that an electric vehicle inside the garage was smoking.

The call was changed to a "Fill-the-Box" incident, which is when the firemen are requesting additional resources. As the firefighters were waiting for resources, the vehicle exploded in the garage, Boulder Fire-Rescue reported on their X account.

"It sounded like an aircraft had crashed right here and exploded," a neighbor told ABC Denver7.

The crews reported no injuries, and all the home's residents were safely evacuated. Firefighters then worked to ventilate the home, which had been filled with smoke. They then carefully removed the exploded vehicle from the garage, along with another family vehicle of unknown type.

The department has opened an investigation into the origins of the fire.

Electric vehicle fires are not unheard of by any means. However, while the make and model of the car was not identified by fire officials, several readers of the story pointed out that the car in question did not appear to be fully electric but rather a hybrid.

Multiple online sleuths pointed to a Volvo XC40 Recharge as the model that caught fire and exploded, a hybrid-electric vehicle. However, the vehicles — which can cost around $75,000 — still use a 78kWh lithium ion battery.

Therefore, despite the distinction, the vehicle would still carry a large battery at its base, underneath the vehicle's frame. It also is still charged similarly to a fully electric car, with a plug-in DC charger.

The incident is yet another example that lithium ion batteries do not appear to be fully user-safe as of yet. In 2022, four were killed in a New York City electric-bike repair shop.

"It is very clear that this was caused by lithium-ion batteries and e-bikes. There was a very large number of both batteries and e-bikes," said FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh.

A new analysis showed that the number of fires caused by rechargeable batteries in New York City surged from 30 in 2019 to 220 in 2022. Firefighters have been warned that lithium-ion battery fires burn longer and hotter than regular car fires and are hard to extinguish safely. Since 2019, they've found 669 incidents between New York City and San Francisco, resulting in hundreds of injuries.

The vast majority of such batteries come from China, as well, with the country controlling 83% of the lithium-ion battery market.

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