Tarmo Hannula /The Pajaronian A small vapor cloud can be seen (lower left) beside the decommissioned towers at Moss Landing early Tuesday morning.

MOSS LANDING — An early morning fire in a Tesla Megapack at the Elkhorn Battery Storage facility in Moss Landing forced emergency officials to close a section of Highway 1 between Salinas Road and Molera Road.

Fire crews have largely contained the blaze as of 9:30am.

The California Highway Patrol said the highway could be closed for four to six hours, which has led to a massive traffic jam starting at Riverside Drive during the early morning commute.

According to Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman Jeff Smith, the fire began about 1:30am in a single Tesla Megapack at its Elkhorn Battery Storage facility in Monterey County.

PG&E is working with North Monterey County Fire District to stop the spread of the fire.

Safety systems at the facility worked as designed when the issue was detected, and automatically disconnected the battery storage facility from the electrical grid, Smith said.

There were no injuries reported.

No electrical outages for customers have been reported. 

PG&E in April announced the launching of its 182.5-megawatt Tesla Megapack battery energy storage system at its Moss Landing electric substation in Monterey County. That’s enough energy to power 7,300 electric cars, according to insideevs.com. At the time, it was billed as a way to store energy gathered through alternative sources such as solar, to be used when energy demand is high.

A separate energy storage facility located adjacent to PG&E’s facility owned by Vistra Energy was not affected by the fire, company spokeswoman Miraqnda Cohn said.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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