A crashed Tesla was found in Spokane County wrapped in flames with the driver trapped and killed inside near Fairfield in June.

Firefighters from Spokane County Fire District 2 were called to the scene of the crash, they struggled to put out the blaze due to the vehicle being a Tesla. Witnesses describe the fire as being “odd” and appearing to go off like “bottle rockets”. In a report by The Spokesman-Review, Chris Mewhinney residing on the Mewhinney farm near the site of the incident, saw everything firsthand and ultimately heard the explosion of the vehicle. 

tesla depicted driving on highway

Chief Eric Olson of Spokane County Fire District 2 reported that their crew did not have the ability to identify the incident as an electrical-vehicle fire. Witnesses and officials further state that the fire was more intense than a typical vehicle fire and difficult to put out. Upon discovering that the vehicle was a Tesla, fire personnel began to worry about the toxins and additional concerns about runoff. 

As of June 26, thousands of individual battery cells littered the tree that was split by the Tesla’s impact. Electric vehicles with thousands of individual battery cell modules pose unique threats and risks to both firefighters and the environment. According to the deputy fire chief at the Spokane Fire Department, Rex Shefield, the smoke coming from electric batteries is “really nasty” containing tons of heavy metals and lithium cobalt. Damaged battery parts must be treated as hazardous waste and are difficult to dispose of, posing environmental risks and difficulties.

The cleanup taking place at the Mewhinney farm is being used as a test case for Ecology to streamline procedures related to electric-vehicle crashes that take place on private properties. The Mewhinney’s are working with Ecology, private contractors, and the driver’s insurance company to ensure the area gets cleaned up and the tree removed. 

“Damaged lithium-ion batteries found inside Teslas make crashes all the more dangerous for everyone involved when these vehicles go up in flames,” said Brett Schreiber leading Tesla litigation attorney at Singleton Schreiber. “It’s unfortunate that the fire took the life of its driver and ultimately exposed the Mewhinney farm to toxic chemicals and harm. This tragedy will hopefully provide much needed information and procedures related to electric-vehicle crashes.”

Singleton Schreiber Spokane County Tesla accident attorneys can be reached at (619) 771-3473 or by emailing info@singletonschreiber.com.

Dangers of Spokane County Tesla Accidents 

Spokane County has seen a significant increase in the number of Tesla vehicles on its roads in recent years. The company’s electric cars, known for their impressive performance and cutting-edge autonomous driving features, have found favor among residents seeking a greener and technologically advanced alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. This rise in Tesla ownership has brought with it a corresponding increase in Tesla-related accidents.

Key Dangers of Tesla Accidents

  • Technical Failures: While Tesla vehicles are known for their advanced technology, like any complex system, they are not immune to technical failures. These can range from software glitches to hardware malfunctions, potentially leading to accidents.
  • Unpredictable Road Conditions: Spokane County features diverse road conditions, from mountainous terrain to severe weather conditions. These factors can present unique challenges for Tesla’s autonomous features, making accidents more likely when the technology struggles to adapt.

Addressing the dangers associated with Tesla accidents in Spokane County requires a multi-pronged approach:

  • Stricter Regulations: Policymakers should consider enacting stricter regulations regarding autonomous driving features, including requirements for enhanced driver monitoring and interventions.
  • Infrastructure Improvements: Local authorities can invest in improving road infrastructure, signage, and lighting to better support autonomous driving technology and reduce accidents caused by challenging road conditions.
  • Regular Maintenance and Updates: Tesla owners should be encouraged to regularly update their vehicles’ software and undergo maintenance checks to identify and address technical issues proactively.
  • Community Engagement: Local communities can play a role in fostering responsible driving practices, emphasizing that technology does not absolve drivers of their responsibility behind the wheel.

While Tesla’s presence in Spokane County has ushered in a new era of automotive innovation, it has also raised concerns about road safety. The dangers associated with Tesla accidents are real and addressing them is paramount to ensuring the well-being of all road users. By educating Tesla owners, implementing stricter regulations, improving infrastructure, and promoting responsible driving practices, Spokane County can navigate the transition to autonomous technology while minimizing the associated risks. Balancing the benefits of innovation with safety is the key to a future where electric vehicles can thrive while minimizing potential dangers.

“My hope is that anyone impacted by dangerous Tesla incidents reach out to a knowledgeable attorney that can help in determining liability and fault,” added Mr. Schreiber. “My thoughts are with the victim’s loved ones as they navigate this horrific situation.”

Singleton Schreiber Spokane County Tesla accident attorneys can be reached at (619) 771-3473 or by emailing info@singletonschreiber.com.