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Fire Safety Crucial During Holiday Season

Spokeswoman Liz Jarvis Shean says Tesla has sent a team to Tennessee to investigate the fire. Two other Model S cars have caught fire in the past five weeks, one near Seattle and the other in Mexico. (AP Photo/Tennessee Highway Patrol) DETROIT The U.S. government's auto safety watchdog has opened an investigation into battery fires in Tesla Model S electric cars. The National Highway Traffic Administration says fires broke out in two of the cars in the U.S. after the undercarriage hit metal road debris. The debris pierced the batteries and caused a thermal reaction and fires. In each case, the car warned the driver of the damage, and both escaped without getting hurt. The probe affects more than 13,000 cars from the 2013 model year that were sold in the U.S. Tesla has sold about 19,000 of the cars worldwide. They start at $70,000 but often run more than $100,000. Tesla's batteries are located beneath the passenger compartment and protected by a quarter-inch-thick metal shield. Experts say that if the batteries are damaged, that can cause arcing and sparks and touch off a fire. NHTSA, in documents posted on its website Tuesday, said it opened the preliminary evaluation "to examine the potential risks associated with undercarriage strikes" on the Tesla cars. The investigation could lead to a recall, but a decision likely is months away. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a blog posting that the company asked the government to investigate, even though its cars catch fire at a far lower rate than gas-powered vehicles. "While we think it is highly unlikely, if something is discovered that would result in a material improvement in occupant fire safety, we will immediately apply that change to new cars and offer it as a free retrofit to all existing cars," Musk wrote. He also wrote that Tesla has done an over-the-air software update to give the car more ground clearance at highway speeds. Musk wrote that at first, a NHTSA investigation didn't seem like a good use of the agency's time given the higher frequency of gasoline-powered car fires. But he changed his mind. "If a false perception about the safety of electric cars is allowed to linger, it will delay the advent of sustainable transport and increase the risk of global climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences worldwide. That cannot be allowed to happen," Musk wrote. He has said previously that the car won't be recalled. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla's stock rose more than 400 percent earlier in the year as the Model S won accolades from Consumer Reports and other magazines. But it has fallen 37 percent since news of the first fire was reported on Oct. 2. Its shares fell almost 4 percent, or $4.38, to $117.20 in premarket trading Tuesday. The first U.S. fire occurred along a freeway in Kent, Wash., near Seattle when a Model S struck a curved metal object which pierced the shield and the battery. In the second case, a Model S caught fire Nov.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/11/19/us-safety-agency-opens-investigation-into-tesla-model-s-electric-car-fires/

Wilcher said the fire department tends to see an increase in preventable mishaps this time of year. He said local residents should practice safety first and common sense with the usual festivities. It's a joyous season, but it can also be a deadly season, Wilcher said. To favor the former, residents should use precaution while cooking, stringing lights, burning candles or say, roasting chestnuts on an open fire as the carol goes which, turns out, isn't such a great idea. Wilcher said fires should always be contained, and electrical wiring should be in pristine shape, and organized properly. Overloaded outlets is one of the main hazards firefighters see this time of year, along with the unsafe placement of candles and heaters throughout the home. Indoor heaters should always have a 3-foot clearance from materials that could potentially ignite, Wilcher said, while candles, comparatively, should be positioned in a safe place, away from curtains, table cloths or similar materials. We have had cases where [a resident] had a candle away from drapery, and they had it away from the window, but they had the window open and it was on a stand that blew over and it got on the bed and caught the bed on fire, Wilcher said. So just using common sense is a necessary precaution. If candle wax is low a quarter full, for instance that'd be time to throw the candle away, he said, since that apple-spice jar can break when it gets too hot. The optimal thing would be to have it in a metal container, or have sand on the bottom, where if it did break, the sand would soak it up, Wilcher said. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that December is the peak time of year for home candle fires, while Christmas tree fires account for hundreds of fires annually. Wilcher said when it comes to trees, there's a few things to keep in mind, since a dry tree with hot lights is one step closer to a burst of unwanted flames. If cutting down a live tree, residents should check the needles, Wilcher said. Are they green and fresh? Or crisp and snapping? Snapping equals dry not good. The same goes for purchases, since a tree might be sitting on a lot for weeks prior to being sold the moral of the story being that residents should tend to their tree's freshness and hydration. Make sure you keep those things watered, Wilcher said. Check the water on those things daily. For extra caution, Wilcher suggested that residents may want to consider purchasing an ornament that doubles as a smoke alarm. The batteries in household smoke alarms should be replaced twice a year, he added. When it comes to the turkey, holiday cooking presents additional fire hazards for local residents to keep at bay. If they're going to fry turkeys, definitely do it outside, and definitely do it away from the house, Wilcher advised, at least 10 to 15 feet from any structures, children or pets. Make sure that the turkey is not frozen, make sure there's not a lot of water on it, and just be extra cautious because a wet turkey dropped in hot grease equals one heck of a fire. Don't overfill your pot full of grease, and when you put it in there, slowly immerse the turkey, he said. For stuff on the stove, awareness is the key ingredient. It's important not to get distracted when something is cooking, Wilcher said. We see that all the time. [Someone will] let the cat out, they let their dog out, they tend to their child or something like that, and they forget what they're doing... the next thing you know their kitchen is on fire. Wilcher's advice? Turn the burner off or take whatever you're cooking off of the burner and set it aside. For more information on fire safety and prevention, residents can visit the National Fire Protection Association at www.nfpa.org , or call the Palestine Fire Department at 903-729-7100.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.palestineherald.com/localscene/x1050746624/Fire-safety-crucial-during-holiday-season

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