Fire at Rivian plant in Illinois under investigation

A defective battery pack caught fire over the weekend at the Rivian Automotive Inc. plant in Normal, Ill., leading to the evacuation of the portion of the plant where battery packs are tested for the automaker’s electric vehicles, Electrek reported Tuesday. The cause was under investigation.

According to the Normal Fire Department, firefighters arrived at the plant at 10:38 a.m. Saturday, where they found a battery pack in thermal runaway — meaning it had overheated and caught fire.

“Firefighters connected hoses to standpipes inside the building and extinguished the battery pack fire and then continued to flow water on the pack to keep it cool to prevent further thermal runaway from occurring,” the department said in a statement.

In an email to Automotive News, a Rivian spokesperson wrote that the battery pack was already identified as faulty prior to the fire and that Rivian was actively investigating the cause of the defect.

“No injuries occurred during the event, and production in the area has restarted,” the spokesperson said. “Every one of our batteries undergoes a rigorous and comprehensive testing regime before being certified for installation in our vehicles.”

Firefighters from nearby Bloomington, Ill., assisted because of the size of the fire. Once the pack was extinguished, “firefighters moved the fire damaged battery outside of the plant and began ventilating the smoke from the building,” the statement said.

The only damage was to the battery pack, the test booth equipment and to the carrier, which supports the battery so it maintains its structural integrity.

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