Over the weekend, a Tesla Model X caught fire on the frozen surface of Lake Champlain in Vermont. The fire happened around 8 p.m. on Sunday, and the fire almost completely consumed the vehicle.
A few news reports had mentioned the burned-up Tesla. So, we decided to walk out onto the lake and have a look:
The Shelburne Police Department tells Popular Mechanics that the owner of the vehicle took their Tesla onto the ice to go fishing, and that at some point during the expedition the car hit a rock. The car started making unusual noises, and shortly after that caught fire. No one was hurt.
The specific cause of the fire is as-yet unknown. People on Tesla forums who saw the crazy pictures began to speculate about insurance fraud or some other oddball explanation, but the most likely explanation would be a battery failure. If damaged, lithium-ion batteries can rapidly discharge their stored energy in the form of heat, leading to an inferno. The bigger the battery, the bigger the fire. Teslas necessarily have giant battery back, so if the car suffers sufficiently severe impact, it can go up in flames—as plenty of previous Tesla incidents have illustrated. (multiple links in original story embedded in this paragraph - click above link if desired)
For the time being, this Tesla's burned out husk remains on the lake, where Popular Mechanics photographed it on Wednesday afternoon. No word yet on what will become of the charred remains, but it's hard to imagine someone freeing the metal from the ice and dragging it away, so we'd have to guess these remains are bound for the bottom of the lake once springtime melts the ice.