A Tesla Model 3 crashed on Tuesday in Corvallis, Oregon, flinging hot battery cells far from the crash site.
Two cells broke through nearby windows — one landed in someone's lap, while the other landed on a bed and caught the sheets on fire, the police said.
The Corvallis Police Department said the driver was going over 100 mph and sustained only minor injuries.
Video: Why Tesla’s Model 3 received top crash-test safety ratings
Tesla has caught heat in the past for its battery packs bursting into flames, but a crash on Tuesday in Corvallis, Oregon, suggests that the electric vehicles might pose a fire hazard not just to themselves but to the surrounding environment.
In an incident spotted by The Drive, a speeding Model 3 hit a power pole, shearing the pole at its base and hurling bits of the car far from the crash site, the Corvallis Police Department said in a statement on Facebook. The Model 3 was obliterated, and its battery pack was destroyed, flinging burning-hot battery cells around the neighborhood.
Battery cells broke through two windows of two homes -- one landed on a person's lap, while the other landed on a bed and caught the sheets on fire, the police said.
"A tire was ripped from the car during the collision and struck the second story siding of a nearby apartment complex with such force that it ruptured the water pipes within the wall, destroying the bathroom to the apartment and flooding the downstairs portion of the apartment as well," the police said.
The police said the driver was going over 100 mph when he lost control of the vehicle, plowing into the power pole, two trees, and a telephone junction box. The driver fled on foot but was found nearby and transported to the hospital with minor injuries. The police charged him with a DUI, hit and run, criminal mischief, reckless driving, and reckless endangering.
The police said authorities tried to collect as many of the battery cells as they could, spending roughly three hours investigating and cleaning up. But on Wednesday the department told residents to be on the lookout for "potentially hazardous batteries" that could stay hot for up to 24 hours and emit toxic fumes and chemicals.
Batteries overheating is always a problem when it comes to EVs, and it's more likely to occur when the cells leave their protective pack and cooling system.
That the driver sustained only minor injuries may be a testament to the Model 3's passenger safety, but an EV spewing burning batteries into the environment and through windows may not be a good sign for those outside the car.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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