Inspection finds overloaded power strip caused charging station fire in SoNo mall

(Norwalk Fire Department)

The cause of an electric vehicle charging station fire in the SoNo Collection mall parking garage last October was an overloaded power strip placed inside the unit’s cabinet, according to a fire inspector’s report.

The power strip, termed a Relocatable Power Tap or RPT in the fire service, showed extensive charring, heat damage and fire consumption, according to Inspector John Kelly.

Firefighters responded the morning of Oct. 7 to a report of a fire on the first level of the parking garage in South Norwalk.

A Fire Department incident report says when the first companies arrived, they encountered a “fully involved” electric car charging unit.

(Norwalk Fire Department)

The report says mall security attempted to extinguish the fire with a dry chemical extinguisher, and that firefighters used additional dry chemical extinguishers to complete suppressing the fire.

Kelly says that, during his investigation, he directed mall management to open another, nearby EV charging station and found that it also had a power strip installed in it.

He said that a review of security camera footage for that area of the garage showed “no human interaction with the EV charging unit.”

The fire has led at least one Norwalk resident to cite it in criticisms of electronic batteries.

“How about the fire in the Norwalk mall with the Tesla chargers?” Tysen Cnaveri said at last week’s Common Council Ordinance Committee meeting. “Tesla is now recommending you charge your car in the driveway and not in the house.”

Five days after the incident, Kelly and Deputy Fire Marshall Kirk McDonald met with representatives from the charging station’s manufacturer, Volta, to examine the “fire consumed” unit.

“As a result of the collaborative inspection (with the) Volta representatives, the cause of this fire has been determined to be an overloading from internal electronic devices plugged into the RPT of the fire-affected unit,” Kelly reported.


5 responses to “Inspection finds overloaded power strip caused charging station fire in SoNo mall”

  1. Tysen Canevari

    Thank you Nancy for covering this. The ordinance committee basically ignored all of this when they passed their ordinance to ban gas blowers. This stuff is very serious and 37 fire fighters responded to extinguish this fire. My landlord will not allow us to charge all these batteries needed for battery operated landscape equipment in the building nor will he install the necessary burn room required to protect the rest of the building from a fire breaking out. We have never really had an opportunity to discuss these matters because you can only speak for 3 minutes in regards to what is on the agenda that night at a meeting. Lisa Shanahan and the Ordinance Committee passed this rule without ever having Broderick Sawyer the fire marshall present their recommendations in public. Sad part of the story is that a local landscaper lost a family member a year ago in a house fire started by a tesla charging in the garage in Redding. Tesla as we know does not use after market batteries in its vehicles. I feel obligated to fight for our industry because we dont have much of a say. This ordinance still to this day I believe was never published in Spanish in an industry that is probably 70% hispanic! On a side note I speak for many when I say I hope you are continuing to feel much better each and every day as we all pray for your speedy recovery!

    1. David Muccigrosso

      You repeated a lie that was found to be a lie. The fire was NOT caused by a battery.

  2. Ana Tabachneck

    I don’t entirely understand what the fire being caused by “ overloading from internal electronic devices plugged into the RPT of the fire-affected unit” really means. Does this mean people were charging their cell phones inside the units? Was the RPT overload due to people misusing the system? If so, who is responsible? Or was it being used as designed and this is just a risk of these stations?

    What needs to happen to prevent another charging station fire in the future?

    1. David Muccigrosso

      It wasn’t people “charging their cell phones”. It means that the unit had a bunch of internal devices connected to the same power strip, and they drew too much power, overloading the circuit and starting a fire.

      Same thing can happen in your own home — if you plug 7 big appliances into the same power strip, you’re gonna get an overload.

  3. Tysen Canevari

    Where is the lie David? My point was that even the name brand chargers and batteries catch fire. The focus has been on after market products

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