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Arkansas firefighters receive training on electric car fires

Firefighters across Arkansas are starting to receive training on electric cars fires and how to put them out.

ARKANSAS, USA — As Arkansas continues its push to be a trailblazer when it comes to electric vehicles, the state is expected to see more electric cars on the roads soon.

In February, Governor Asa Hutchinson began taking steps to make Arkansas a hub for electric vehicles. Hutchinson created a council to push for electric vehicle use in the state and encourage the move for electric vehicle makers to come to Arkansas.

However, there are some concerns among fire departments about electric cars, which are being addressed.

Firefighters are learning to fight the flames of an electric vehicle fire because the flames can burn longer than a gas car fire.

"This is new to us, I mean, it's new to me at least,” said Chase Hutchens with the Fort Smith Fire Department "Just seeing how we would work on this. If it catches on fire, what we would do."

On a gas-powered car, foam is used to put out the flames, but with an electric car, firefighters are using water with the reason being the battery of the cars.

"That’s the big danger with these, the giant lithium-ion battery,” said Fort Smith Fire Battalion Chief Ryan Rains. “So, that’s really why they get their own special training."

Because of the large battery the flames can re-ignite and burn for days.

"If this thing does catch fire on fire, it's going to keep burning,” said a firefighter with the Fort Smith Fire Department. “The only thing we can do is just keep putting water on it and wait for it to burnout."

Battalion Chief Rains says he hopes water will cool battery fires long-term, comparing the cars to a large hoverboard. 

"It's times a thousand and it's rolling down the road against cars," said Rains. 

Firefighters say the risk of an electric car fire is extremely low, but just in the case that there is one, they want to make sure they are prepared.

Firefighters also tell electric cars owners to make sure if they are dealing with a structure fire to their home or such, to make sure to attempt to get the car out and away from the flames, if safe.

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