A fleet of 11 electric buses owned by CT Transit in Connecticut is still out of service following a massive battery fire in July, the state’s Department of Transportation said.
In July, a battery fire caused an electric bus to catch fire in Hamden, Connecticut. Fortunately, no one died in the inferno, although two transit workers and two firefighters were hospitalized following the blaze and a federal investigation was launched.
In September, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report detailing how the electric bus operated by CT Transit was engulfed in flames while parked at a maintenance facility, according to a report by NHPR.
“Battery electric buses remain out of service while investigations are ongoing,” DOT spokesman Josh Morgan said.
The NTSB and Connecticut State Police are currently investigating the battery fire.
On July 20, a 2021 New Flyer Xcelsior battery electric bus was charged, but failed to turn on the next day. The bus was therefore decommissioned and stored in a maintenance facility pending inspection.
Then, on July 23 at around 3:39 a.m., the bus began emitting smoke from the rear compartment while parked inside the facility, according to the NTSB. Seeing the smoke and hearing crackling and whistling, a CT Transit employee called the Hamden Fire Department, who saw no flames after responding to the incident.
The bus was then reportedly pushed into a parking lot to isolate it “from other vehicles and structures,” which led to two CT Transit employees being hospitalized and treated for smoke inhalation, according to NTSB officials.
Then, at around 7.32am the same day, the Hamden Fire Department was again called to deal with the electric bus, which was again emitting smoke – and this time the fire was clearly visible.
The NTSB indicates that “fires were observed coming from the rear of the vehicle. The firefighters reportedly had difficulty putting out the fire and decided to let the bus burn in a controlled environment.
Since battery fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish, the “fire remained active for several hours and completely consumed the vehicle,” the NTSB noted, adding that two days later, “smoke and an orange glow were seen emanating from the right rear wheel arch of the burned bus”, and that the Hamden Fire Department was counter-called to the scene to extinguish “the hot spot”.
The cost of the electric bus that was destroyed in the battery fire was around $900,000, the Department of Transportation said.
Following the fire, CT Transit replaced its electric buses with traditional diesel models.
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