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Tesla explodes moments after driver pulled from burning EV

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A Tesla caught on fire and was completely destroyed on a national highway in Sejong on Monday night. [YONHAP]
A Tesla caught on fire and was completely destroyed on a national highway in Sejong on Monday night. [YONHAP]

A Tesla exploded just moments after the driver was pulled from the burning wreck by passersby on a highway in Sejong Monday.

Fifty firefighters and 17 fire trucks were sent to the scene, and it took them an hour and 18 minutes to extinguish the electric vehicle (EV) blaze.

The dramatic and heroic rescue came just days after a Tesla combusted and burned in Seoul.

The Tesla Model Y in Sejong caught fire at around 10:25 p.m. on Monday after the vehicle hit a guardrail and crashed into an oncoming SUV.

A small fire was seen at first, according to a social media post shared by a passerby who helped rescue the driver. After calls were made to emergency services, bystanders approached the EV with an extinguisher and realized the driver was stuck in the vehicle.

“The person in the car was shouting inside for help. The fire grew bigger and the airbags were deployed,” the post read. “Four men broke the window trying to take the driver out, but it was hard to unbuckle the seatbelts.”

According to the online post, the EV exploded dramatically just after the driver was sprung and it was determined that no one else had been trapped.

“It’s a relief that the driver is alive,” the post said.

The 36-year-old driver was sent to a hospital in Cheonan, South Chuncheong, with burns and a fractured ankle.

The fire department is investigating the cause of the fire but tentatively suspects the battery ignition as the cause.

Just two days earlier, a Tesla X caught on fire while sitting at a Tesla service center in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul. It took three hours to extinguish the fire, with 27 fire trucks responding. No injuries or casualties were reported by the fire department.

A witness heard a boiling sound from the car and smelled burning, according to a social media post. Bubbling was heard three times, and the vehicle threw off sparks before igniting.

The fire department suspects the fire was caused by thermal runaway, in which battery cells overheat and become unstable.

BY CHO JUNG-WOO, HYEON YE-SEUL [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]