Over the last 48 hours, we have been documenting the story of an allegedly spontaneously combusting Tesla Model S Plaid that became engulfed in flames in a Philadelphia suburb last week.
Now, according to Charles McGarvey, chief fire officer for the Lower Merion Township Fire Department, it has been revealed that the driver was at the wheel when the vehicle went up in flames, according to CNBC.
We also learned from the new report that it took two crews of firefighters "just over 3 hours" to deal with the fire. Firefighters took the 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid to a complex to safely store it overnight after the fire, the fire chief said. The owner is going to have the vehicle investigated independently and McGarvey's team has been in touch with Tesla, and will be releasing more information via public records soon, he said.
The NHTSA also commented for the first time, telling CNBC it was "aware of the Tesla vehicle fire in Pennsylvania and is in touch with relevant agencies and the manufacturer to gather more information about the incident".
“If data or investigations show a defect or an inherent risk to safety exists, NHTSA will take action as appropriate to protect the public,” a NHTSA spokesperson told CNBC.
Earlier this weekend the owner of the vehicle's lawyer spoke out, claiming the vehicle "burst into flames while the owner was driving" it. The driver of the vehicle has been identified as an "executive entrepreneur" who is being represented by Mark Geragos, of Geragos & Geragos.
Geragos said that the driver wasn't initially able to get out of the vehicle because its "electronic door system failed", requiring the driver to push and use force to open the door.
He said the car moved for 35 to 40 feet before "turning into a fireball". He called it a "harrowing and horrifying experience".
"This is a brand new model... We are doing an investigation. We are calling for the S Plaid to be grounded, not to be on the road until we get to the bottom of this," Geragos said.
A separate source reported that the Tesla belonged to a top executive at one of Tesla's biggest investors. The driver was identified in that report as Bart Smith, also called the "Crypto King" by CNBC, who works as the head of the digital asset group at trading firm Susquehanna International.
Susquehanna owned about $1.1 billion worth of Tesla shares as of March 31, the report noted.