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Here's How That Tesla Model X Burned Down On a Frozen Lake Without Going Through The Ice

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A member of the Tesla Motors Club forum posted a photo this past Tuesday of a burnt shell of a Tesla Model X, which was curiously parked on top of a frozen lake. At first it seemed weird that a car could be so burnt and not melt through the ice, but apparently sinking was the least of the Tesla’s worries.

The fire broke out on the ice on Sunday evening, according to the forum post, which was first picked up by Electrek. The burning vehicle was spotted by the forum user and they quickly called emergency services, who later confirmed that it was a Tesla. Here’s more from the post:

The next morning I walked across the ice to look at the vehicle and found that yes, indeed, it was a Model X. It was fully burned, the body was pretty much gone. It makes it easy to see where the steel reinforcement is! 


The fire broke out on the surface of Shelburne Bay on Lake Champlain, according to the post. The Shelburne fire department confirmed to Jalopnik over the phone that there had indeed been a fire on the lake involving a Tesla, but didn’t provide any further information.

Here’s what allegedly happened, via Popular Mechanics:

The Shelburne Police Department tells Popular Mechanics that the owner of the vehicle took their Tesla onto the ice to go fishing, and that at some point during the expedition the car hit a rock. The car started making unusual noises, and shortly after that caught fire. No one was hurt.


Popular Mechanics points out that it’s very possible the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack was damaged somehow, which could have been the source of the fire. When reached for comment, a Tesla spokesperson said that the company had nothing to add.

As for why the car didn’t sink, well it comes down to some basic thermodynamics. The focus of the heat coming off of a fire is not below it, nor off to the side, but directly above the fire. This is why you can hold the side of a candle in a glass jar, but get burnt if you cover the opening above the flame.

So while it’s likely some of the ice around the burning car did indeed melt, the heat radiation below the fire wasn’t nearly enough to melt through the thick layer of ice.

Jalopnik has a few calls out to various local authorities and will update if we have more information.


Is an electric car burning to the ground over a frozen lake ironic? Is that how this works?