A FIRE at a Tesla showroom and service centre that damaged half of the premises is now under control, according to firefighters.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were called to the Gatwick centre in Crawley yesterday, where they said the building was ‘well alight’.
No one was reported hurt, according to Tesla. The blaze is believed to have started accidentally in the storeroom, then spread to the main building.
An eyewitness described hearing ‘many small explosions’ coming from the single-storey premises.
About 50 firefighters and eight fire engines, as well as an aerial ladder platform and incident command unit, were scrambled to the scene in County Oak Way.
The emergency service posted on Twitter:
It later tweeted images by Eddie Howland of the fire:
and subsequently issued a statement in which it said: ‘The cause of the fire is under investigation but was not caused by Tesla cars, chargers or batteries. The fire is thought to have started in the storeroom.
‘West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was alerted to the car showroom and workshop in County Oak Way at 10.28am [sic] today (2 March) after receiving a number of 999 calls. Crews were greatly assisted by Tesla staff on site.’
Adrian Murphy, the service’s area manager for response, said: ‘Our fire crews were on the scene within four minutes and found a rapidly spreading fire.
‘With the assistance of Tesla staff on the scene and later crews from Surrey, the fire was soon brought under control and at around midday the incident was scaled back.’
Crews managed to contain the damage to a quarter of the building, with a further 25 per cent being damaged by heat and smoke.
Eyewitness Thomas Ferryman told GetSurrey that he had heard ‘many small explosions’, which he believed could have been batteries for the electric vehicles.
Firefighters searched the building for any remaining hotspots and were due to return to it to ensure the fire was out.
A Tesla spokeswoman said: ‘The fire at Tesla’s Gatwick Service Centre has stopped and we are working with the fire department to learn more about what caused this incident. We can confirm that no Tesla staff or customers were injured or hurt.’
The blaze happened two days after the electric car manufacturer announced plans to close its dealerships and sell its vehicles online only, raising doubts about the future of its sites in the UK and Ireland.