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Tesla Megapack battery fire is ‘fully controlled,’ shelter-in-place advisory lifted

Tesla Megapack battery fire is ‘fully controlled,’ shelter-in-place advisory lifted


The fire started at 1:30AM PT, causing road closures and a shelter-in-place advisory that lasted until nearly 7PM PT.

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Tesla logo in red on black background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A Tesla Megapack battery caught fire this morning at the local utility company PG&E’s Elkhorn Battery Storage facility in Monterey County, California, as reported by local news stations KSBW Action News 8 and KRON4.

The fire started at around 1:30AM this morning, according to PG&E’s operations comm manager, Jeff Smith. No injuries were reported at the scene.

Around 7PM PT / 10PM ET, the North County Fire Department and Monterey County Sheriff’s Office lifted the advisory and reopened the roads. In a tweet from the Public Information for Monterey County account, officials reported on the Megapack battery fire at the Elkhorn facility, saying, “While the fire is considered fully controlled, smoke may still occur in the area for several days.”

Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, North County Fire Protection District, and Pacific Gas & Electric had issued a shelter-in-place advisory for nearby areas, complete with an interactive map showing which areas are affected and road closures that lasted more than 12 hours. Residents were asked to shut all windows and turn off ventilation systems due to the hazardous waste material incident caused by the Tesla Megapack fire.

Caltrans confirmed the fire closed a section of Highway 1 as fire crews deployed units to handle the blaze. The California Highway Patrol tweeted at 4:29PM that the closure had been extended due to air quality concerns.

According to Smith, built-in safety systems worked as designed, automatically disconnecting the Tesla batteries from the grid when the fire was detected.

The Vistra Zero facility, long building at center, at the Moss Landing Power Plant with a similar Tesla facility behind it in Moss Landing, Calif., on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Vistra Zero is the largest energy storage system of its kind in the world,
The Vistra Zero facility, long building at center, at the Moss Landing Power Plant with a similar Tesla facility behind it.
Photo By Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Elkhorn battery facility, located at Moss Landing, houses a 182.5-megawatt Tesla Megapack system originally announced in 2019. The facility is owned and operated by PG&E, but it was designed, built, and is also maintained by both Tesla and the utility company. Smith said PG&E does not expect the fires to cause customers any outages.

California’s electric grid is connected to multiple battery storage facilities, including Vistra Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility, a 400-megawatt setup across two buildings adjacent to Elkhorn. The higher power operation houses batteries built by LG Energy Solutions, and according to Mercury News, it was shut down earlier this year due to at least two separate issues with overheating batteries.

In July, Vistra restarted the facilities while operating at 98 percent of max capacity “after implementing identified corrective actions, including related to connectors in the water-based heat suppression system.” It’s currently building a 350-MW Phase III expansion and mentioned plans for a phase four setup that would raise the site’s capacity to 1,500 MW.

Update 4:55PM ET: Added shelter-in-place advisory notice from Monterey County officials, and additional local coverage from KSBW Action News 8.

Update 11:05PM ET: Updated to note advisory has been lifted, roads are reopened, and the fire is considered “fully controlled.”