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Tesla Investigating Possible Battery Issue After Model S Suddenly Catches Fire

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WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – Tesla is investigating how one of its cars appeared to suddenly catch fire on a busy street near Los Angeles.

Cellphone video shows flames shooting out of the electric vehicle last week.

Local authorities say it could've been a faulty battery, but Tesla says it's still too early to know exactly what happened.

Tesla is calling the incident "extraordinarily unusual".

The Model S quickly caught fire Friday afternoon in West Hollywood, California.

Actress Mary McCormack tweeted cell phone video of the fire saying "Tesla, this is what happened to my husband and his car today,"…."no accident, out of the blue, in traffic…."

In a statement, Tesla says "our initial investigation shows that the cabin of the vehicle was totally unaffected by the fire due to our battery architecture, which is designed to protect the cabin in the very rare event that a battery fire occurs."

Alistair Weaver is Editor-In-Chief at Edmunds.

"Well of course the video footage itself looks alarmist," he said. "There's obviously been some issues with lithium ion batteries in the past particularly with cell phones but electric car batteries are very different. It's a lot of sophisticated technology."

Tesla maintains that it takes extraordinary measures to protect passengers from fires, which it says are at least ten times less likely in a tesla than in a gas car.

"We've driven over 50,000 miles in these vehicles and have never replicated this or anything like it nor have we seen any evidence elsewhere of other cars spontaneously catching fire so I think it needs more investigation," Weaver said.

Other incidents where Tesla's caught fire involved collisions like a deadly Florida crash last month or impact with objects on the road like a 2013 accident in Washington state.

There were no injuries in this latest incident and Tesla says it is still working to understand the cause of the fire.

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