Police Video Shows Ford F-150 Lightning Fire That Prompted 5-Week Production Halt, Recall

The CNBC-obtained footage shows a dramatic scene in which three trucks burned to the ground

(Image Credit: CNBC, via Michigan FOIA request)
  • Dearborn Police footage shows the fire that broke out at Ford’s Rouge plant on February 4, as obtained by CNBC through a Michigan Freedom of Information Act request.
  • The footage shows a dramatic scene of three unoccupied trucks burning in a holding lot — an event that prompted Ford to stop production while it developed a solution.
  • Ford worked with supplier SK On, which builds F-150 Lightning battery packs outside Atlanta, Georgia, for weeks before restarting production on March 13.
    • A battery cell manufacturing defect introduced into trucks over a four-week period late last year introduced the problem to some models.
  • The automaker ultimately recalled 18 trucks and replaced their battery packs, which should eliminate the problem of a potential fire post-delivery.
    • Ford says it’s not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the recall.

Newly published footage shows the fire that broke out at a Ford F-150 Lightning holding lot in February.

Ford shut down F-150 Lightning production at its Rogue facility for several weeks as it investigate the root cause of the battery fire. Now, newly released footage shows the actual incident as recorded by the Dearborn Police Department, obtained by CNBC through a Freedom of Information Act request. The video shows just how intense the blaze was, with smoke billowing from three closely parked trucks that compelled the automaker to stop production while it worked with its supplier on a fix.

Ultimately, Ford and SK On narrowed down the root cause of the problem — a battery cell manufacturing defect that worked its way into some production F-150 Lightnings late last year — and implemented “quality actions” to address the situation. A recall campaign covered 18 trucks that did, in fact, make their way out to customers. Ford replaced the battery packs in those trucks, and rebooted F-150 Lightning production on March 13 with non-defective packs.

According to CNBC‘s report, the footage included about two hours of raw video (most of which overlapped), taken from 17 police bodycams and dashcams from responding cruisers between 3:36 and 4:22 PM local time. One truck more or less melted down completely, while the two adjacent trucks suffered severe damage.

While Ford and SK On insist they’ve solved the issue, this battery fire incident, among many others like the Chevrolet Bolt that stopped production for months, highlight a frighteningly real concern of the volatile fire risk associated with lithium-ion battery packs in vehicles and household devices alike. Firefighters directly face the challenge these sorts of blazes pose, while experts are still trying to determine EV fire incident rates using available data from fire departments across the U.S. and abroad.

Take a look at the footage through CNBC’s channel below: