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That Tesla fire that everyone is talking about started spontaneously, it seems. The Gladwyne Fire Department responded to a report of a burning car in Haverford, Pennsylvania on June 29, 2021. They found a Tesla engulfed in flames, and the circumstances surrounding the fire were pretty strange. The spontaneous Tesla fire involved the new Model S Plaid. It was supposed to be released in February, but Elon Musk said there were “more challenges than expected,” and the Plaid was just released.

The burned remains of a 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid.
A Tesla Model S Plaid burned to the ground | Gladwyne Fire Department

The rumored driver is known as the “Crypto King”

The NY Post reported that they’ve confirmed the driver’s identity as Bart Smith, head of the digital asset group at Susquehanna International. Lawyers for the Tesla owner have not confirmed that it was Smith driving the Tesla which caught on fire. Susquehanna International owned 1.1 billion worth of Tesla shares as of March 31, 2021.

When the fire first happened, there were reports that the Gladwyne Fire Department wasn’t sure who the owner was, though it’s hard to know if that was really the case. The fire department took three hours to put out the fire safely since they had to wait for it to cool before they could pass it on to the second responders.

The fire started spontaneously

Firefighters put out a Tesla Model S Plaid fire | Gladwyne Fire Department

Smith was driving their new Tesla Model S Plaid when it suddenly caught fire. Mark Geragos, managing partner of Geragos & Geragos, is representing the Tesla owner. Geragos relayed exactly what went down. 

The Tesla owner had only had his car for a few days. He realized that his brand new car was smoking, and subsequently was on fire while driving. He scrambled to get out of the car but initially couldn’t get the doors to unlock. Luckily he was able to get out by pushing his weight against the door. The Tesla continued to roll 25 to 30 yards on fire, which gave it the illusion of driving autonomously while completely engulfed in flames. 

Confusion ensued. “It was a large amount of heat, then a huge amount of smoke. A very acrid smell. The fire just raged for quite a while,” the NY Post reported eyewitness Tom Wilkinson saying. 

Although it isn’t uncommon for cars, including electric vehicles, to catch on fire after an accident or some sort of other damage, that doesn’t seem to be the case in this fire. Geragos said that his client hadn’t done anything to damage his new Tesla, and he called the fire “completely spontaneous.”

Smith is quite unhappy about the whole situation

A lawyer for Smith posted on Twitter about the fire. He wrote, “Our firm & @AthleteDefender represent an exec who purchased new Tesla Plaid Model S, which was 1/250 shipped. On Tuesday it spontaneously combusted. Our client was trapped & could have died. We tried reaching out to Tesla & have been ignored so far.”

It’s not hard to imagine why Smith would like a response or some sort of acknowledgment from Tesla about whether they’re looking into the fire or taking the Model S Plaid off the market until the cause of this fire has been determined. The NHTSA is investigating this fire, as well as several other Tesla fires. 


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