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A Fire At Tesla Gigafactory Berlin Last Monday As An Excuse To Stop Production

A fire declared in the recycling section of the Tesla Gigafactory forced firefighters to work hard on its extinction. Although there were – luckily - no personal injuries or damages of great material value, several civil associations from the Brandenburg area are calling for a plant shutdown.


Very luckily there were only very small material damages after the fire declared in the early hours of Monday at the Tesla plant on the outskirts of Berlin. The Brandenburg Gigafactory had to get external help in order to put out the flames, that according to local sources started at the factory's recycling plant. Although there was no need to lament major damages, the incident has served for several associations to demand production shutdown.

As reported by the local media, the Tesla Gigafactory, located in the town of Grünheide - near the German capital, Berlin – was officially declared on fire last Monday morning at 3 am. Although the reasons why the fire broke out are still unknown, the damage is only focused on piles of cardboard derived from the main floor; cardboard that was going to be processed and reused in the recycling area of the factory, which is precisely where the incident took place.

According to the official report, the fire was declared at 3:33 am by the fire brigade of the Gigafactory itself. However, given the impossibility of putting out the flames, the 12 factory firefighters were forced to notify outside crews, who went to the Gigafactory to help with the fire extinction tasks. Finally, and after actually carrying out more demanding work than initially planned, the fire was declared extinguished at around 8:00 in the morning. It is important to mention that at no time was the actual EV manufacturing activity in danger or threatened in any way.

Since there is plenty of flammable, sensitive material, the presence of several fire crews was maintained for several more hours due to the possibility that the flames could be reactivated, something that did not finally happen. The final result was the destruction of 800 cubic meters of paper, cardboard and wood, without having to lament any kind of injuries or personal damage to any of the plant workers, or among the fire team members. It is unknown so far what the reason was for the fire to start at such an untimely hour.

Although it was an event with no great environmental incidence or grave consequences , it has been – apparently - enough reason for some associations to request the stoppage of the plant's activities. We should keep in mind that the Berlin Gigafactory is actually located on a drinking water protection area. The Strausberg Erkner (WSE) water association was alarmed after verifying that water and liquids from the extinction have been dumped on an unpaved area, which could cause leaks into groundwater in the area.

“What you can see there clearly confirms that the quench water seeps into the unpaved area, making it clear that the groundwater is unprotected at this point. We view this with great concern”, André Bähler, head of the WSE said. Based on the facts and the previous history of the factory, a citizen initiative calls for the stoppage of production until the facts are clarified. Tesla has not commented on the matter yet, but we will see how it all ends.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.