Fire department officials across Southwest Florida are urging electric vehicle owners to take action after multiple EVs caught fire due to water damage from Hurricane Ian – a hazard costing emergency services precious time in recovery efforts.
"It's just the allocation of resources that we have to put towards these fires," North Collier Assistant Fire Chief James Hammond told FOX Business’ Madison Alworth in an appearance on "Varney & Co." Friday. "And it just ties up resources a lot longer."
A top Florida state official warned Thursday that firefighters have battled a number of fires caused by electric vehicle (EV) batteries waterlogged from Hurricane Ian.
EV batteries that have been waterlogged in the wake of the hurricane are at risk of corrosion, which could lead to unexpected fires, according to Jimmy Patronis, the state's top financial officer and fire marshal.
According to Hammond, a typical car fire requires one tank of water and less than an hour to safely put out, while EV fires require much more effort.
"They take up to two hours to cool the batteries, to keep them out of a runaway situation," the assistant fire chief explained. "And in some cases where we don't have a water source, we have to just secure the area and let them burn because we can't get enough water to them."
Electric vehicles left parked at hurricane victims' homes are reportedly the greatest safety concern.
"What we would really ask them to do is get them towed as soon as possible to a service center or wherever they may be going, work with their insurance," Hammond said. "And if they can't physically get them, try to remove as much as they can, away from them."
The assistant fire chief recommended keeping a clear and open 50-foot radius between any items and a potentially damaged electric vehicle.
"There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian. As those batteries corrode, fires start," Jimmy Patronis tweeted Thursday. "That’s a new challenge that our firefighters haven’t faced before. At least on this kind of scale."
Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.