Was the Luton airport fire caused by an electric vehicle? The official line is that it was a diesel-powered vehicle. However, a video of the fire in its early stages has been noted by many on social media to appear to show a Range Rover Evoque ablaze on the passenger side at the front.
The Range Rover Evoque has mild hybrid EV (MHEV) models which have been recalled in at least one country because of a fault that caused the lithium ion battery located under the passenger seat to short and catch fire.
The Telegraph‘s Allison Pearson notes there “was none of the thick black smoke you would expect with a diesel fire”.
It seems odd that no further details – such as confirmation of the make and model of the car – have yet been put into the public domain. Is that because they would confirm it was a hybrid and detract from the official ‘diesel vehicle’ line?
The blaze, which involved up to 1,500 vehicles that are unlikely to be salvageable, caused the car park to partially collapse.
Worries about electric vehicle fires have been increasing. Recently a family home was lit on fire after their electric car reportedly exploded while sitting in their driveway. In July an electric car was blamed for a fire on a cargo ship carrying nearly 3,000 vehicles in the North Sea which killed one person and forced others to jump overboard. London Fire Brigade says it responds to an electric vehicle fire every two days. Insurance for electric vehicles has become increasingly expensive and hard to obtain. The Government has been advised that car park spaces should become wider to mitigate the fire risk from electric vehicles.
The fire service has said a full investigation is under way into the airport fire but it is not known how long it will take to complete. The results of this investigation should clarify the role of any lithium battery in starting the blaze and are eagerly awaited.