We are not running Letters to the Editor over the school holidays, but as and when we receive letters that relate to topical happenings or are of news importance we will post them at the top of Readers’ Forum for comments in addition to the normal open commentary. Today’s letter is from Otto Inglis:
THE out-of-control fire on the MV Fremantle Highway, carrying 3,783 new cars in the North Sea, raises a worrying question. What happens if such a fire occurs on a passenger ferry carrying hundreds of people?
We can’t know for sure whether the fire started in one of the 498 electric cars on the Fremantle Highway. [Editor’s note: According to Reuters, an emergency responder is heard in a recording released by Dutch broadcaster RTL saying, ‘The fire started in the battery of an electric car.’] However we can be sure that once electric cars started to catch light the fire would become very rapidly extremely difficult to fight. Lithium battery fires are much worse than conventional fires, because you can’t put them out by starving them of oxygen. Thus conventional fire-fighting strategies and equipment don’t work for them.
In a strikingly similar incident last year, the Felicity Ace sank in the Atlantic after a fire spread through the nearly four thousand cars, including electric models, that it was carrying. [Editor’s note: There was speculation that a lithium battery was to blame.]
One sailor was killed and several seriously injured on the Fremantle Highway. Do we have to wait for a large-scale loss of life before we grapple with the dangers of transporting electric cars?