Fire at electric car charging station goes viral on TikTok

Mystery surrounds video of an electricity pole catching fire – while connected to a vehicle charging station. Is the plugged-in Tesla to blame, or is it a dodgy installation?

Footage of a power pole on fire next to an electric-car charging station in Victoria has gone viral on social media platform TikTok – but it’s unclear if the plugged-in Tesla Model Y is to blame for the blaze, or if the “thermal incident” was caused by faulty electrical infrastructure.

The video, which has attracted more than 1000 comments, shows a fire burning near the top of a power pole next to an Evie electric-vehicle charging station in Woodend, Victoria, a town 70km north-west of Melbourne’s CBD.

A red Tesla Model Y is shown plugged in and charging at the station when the fire starts, but the car and the charging station appear to be undamaged.

“One day it will burn your house down, lock you inside and plan to kill you,” reads the video’s caption, with the clip’s original poster seemingly suggesting the Tesla electric car is responsible for the fire.

Some commenters echoed this sentiment, with one calling the video “another classic example we’re not ready for electric cars,” while another added: “It’s the same as turning on 100 toaster[s] in your house, they drag that much power”.

Updates from users on electric-car charging app PlugShare reported electricity provider Powercor attended the scene of the blaze, and that the 50kW charging station was left out of action for a few days.

However, the location of the fire – and its distance from the car and charger – suggest the fire could be due to ageing electrical infrastructure or faulty wiring on the pole.

Images from Google Street View indicate the junction box involved in the fire has been operational for at least 13 years.

When approached for comment, a spokesperson for Powercor told Drive: “We are aware of the incident and are conducting a full investigation into the cause.”

Drive has also approached Evie, the supplier of the charging station, for comment.

Despite many viewers blaming the fire either on the Tesla or the charging station, some users challenged this viewpoint and directed blame instead at old electricity infrastructure.

“This is Tesla’s fault how? They don’t maintain the city’s substandard equipment,” wrote one commenter on social media.

“So why is it Tesla’s fault the Australian government can’t update their infrastructure properly,” another added.

While public electric-car chargers vary in their power, and each electric car can accept a different level of charging power, recharging infrastructure is typically safeguarded against major electrical issues to prevent incidents, or damage to the vehicle.

“Provided that the charger has the right connector for your vehicle, you can use any charger, even one with a higher maximum charge speed than what your vehicle supports,” Bernhard Conoplia, Head of Charging at Evie Networks, has previously told Drive.

“The vehicle’s battery management system will moderate the charging speed in accordance with the battery specification, state of charge and environmental conditions.”

Susannah Guthrie

Susannah Guthrie has been a journalist since she was 18, and has spent the last two years writing about cars for Drive, CarAdvice, CarSales and as a motoring columnist for several in-flight and hotel magazines.

Susannah’s background is news journalism, followed by several years spent in celebrity journalism, entertainment journalism and fashion magazines and a brief stint hosting a travel TV show for Channel Ten. She joined Drive in 2020 after spending a year and a half at the helm of Harper’s BAZAAR and ELLE’s online platforms.

Susannah holds a Bachelor in Media and Communications from the University of Melbourne and cut her teeth as an intern for Time Inc in New York City. She has also completed a television presenting course with the National Institute of Dramatic Art. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and her one-year-old son who, despite her best efforts, does not yet enjoy a good road trip.

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