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Man to get commendation for rescuing driver from burning EV

Nov. 25, 2023 - 16:01 By Lim Jae-seong
Firefighters put out an electric taxi on fire Wednesday in Busan. (Busan Metropolitan City Fire Disaster Headquarters)

A 34-year-old man will be presented with a letter of appreciation for rescuing a driver in his 70s from a burning electric vehicle in Busan, Busan Yeonje Police Station said Thursday.

Yoo Se-rim was passing by in Yeonje-gu when he saw an electric taxi on fire at around 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday. The taxi had burst into flames after it crashed into a shop.

Yoo helped extract the driver who was stuck inside the car. The driver sustained severe burns on his face, arms and legs, but is conscious, according to local media reports.

In an interview with local media, Yoo said that he could think of nothing else but that he must rescue the man, who was burning in front of him, adding that he feared leaving him to die.

Electric vehicle fires are rare, but can be hard to extinguish due to the risk of a phenomenon called thermal runaway in lithium ion batteries.

When lithium ion batteries are overheated, battery cell temperatures can rise rapidly up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, leading to fires that are hard to put out, as the batteries can reignite even when the fire is controlled.

Firefighters immersed the burning taxi in a mobile pool to extinguish the fire in Busan, Wednesday. (Busan Metropolitan City Fire Disaster Headquarters)

Firefighters had to immerse the EV in a mobile pool to contain the fire. The blaze was extinguished in 50 minutes.

The fire caused an estimated 50 million won ($38,500) in damages to the car and the shop.

Police and local fire authorities are investigating the case.