Police believed Tesla fire was due to battery, turns out it was arson

A Tesla Model 3 was found on fire parked on the street in Spokane, Washington. The police first believed that it caught on fire by itself due to its battery, but it turns out it was arson.

Electric vehicles have an unwarranted reputation for catching on fire even though there’s no evidence that they catch on fire at any higher rate than gasoline-powered cars.

Despite the lack of evidence, the reputation has spread, and that’s the first thing that the Spokane Police Department thought when they found Harrold Harriston’s Tesla Model 3 on fire.

Harriston said the police told him electric vehicles “tend to” catch on fire. He voiced his disagreement, but they didn’t believe him until he was able to pull the Sentry Cam video from his car.

Sentry Cam is Tesla’s integrated dashcam system that records video of what is happening around a vehicle. It has been used before to catch criminals – especially vandals damaging Tesla vehicles.

The car was able to record an individual walking up to the Tesla and dousing it in gasoline before lighting on fire. Harriston shared the video with local media:

That convinced the police that it was arson rather than the Tesla vehicle catching on fire spontaneously. They are now looking for the individual responsible, and hopefully, it will lead to learning the motive behind the action.

Harriston says that he doesn’t even live in Spokane and that he was in town to visit a friend. There was no clear reason for someone to want to light his car on fire.

It’s not clear if the vehicle was targeted because it’s a Tesla or an electric. In the past, Tesla vehicles and charging stations have been targeted by those opposed to electric vehicles.

This could be one of those cases, or it could be a random act of vandalism.

If you know something, you should contact the Spokane PD.