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The battery in a new electric car overheated and caught fire in Westmoreland; car is likely ruined

DAVID F. ASHTON - After extinguishing this flaming BMW hybrid SUV, firefighters made sure it was cool enough to be towed out of its below-grade garage. It's not clear whether the BMW X3 xDrive 30e plug-in hybrid had been recharging – or, if its lithium battery system just happened to spontaneously ignite – but the result was a fire that charred the vehicle, which was parked in the below-grade garage of a row house at 1631 S.E. Knight Street in Westmoreland, at 8:29 p.m. on Friday evening, September 11.

Westmoreland Fire Station 20's Engine Company arrived within moments of dispatch, and reported finding thick smoke erupting from the garage area.

With the aid of crews arriving Woodstock Station 25 Ladder Truck firefighters, crews cut apart the garage door, and began hosing down the SUV with water.

With the fire quickly extinguished, a PF&R Battalion Chief called for assistance from the "Heavy Rescue 1" rig, stationed in downtown Portland, to use its heavy-duty towing winch and cable system to pull the still smoldering vehicle out of the garage.

As the burned car slowly slid out of its bay, its tail light sporadically blinked, and the horn tooted weakly, signaling a compromised electrical system.

Although soot coated the front windows of the row house and fascia above, firefighters at the scene told THE BEE that the discoloration was all on the outside, and there had been no extension of the fire into residential quarters above.

No one was injured; but the BMW is likely a goner.


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