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Walmart Blames Tesla Solar Panels for 7 Store Fires

Company is suing over 'widespread negligence'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2019 4:03 AM CDT
Updated Aug 21, 2019 7:02 AM CDT
Solar panels installed by Tesla in the mountain town of Las Piedras, Puerto Rico.   (AP Photo/ Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)
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(Newser) – "To state the obvious, properly designed, installed, inspected, and maintained solar systems do not spontaneously combust," a Walmart lawsuit against Tesla states. The retail giant says solar panels installed on store rooftops caused at least seven fires between 2012 and 2018, reports Reuters. The lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday accuses Tesla of "widespread, systemic negligence" in the installation of solar panels and requests damages and an order to have the company remove the panels from around 240 Walmart stores. The lawsuit says the fires, one of which injured a firefighter, caused millions of dollars in damages. Walmart says that problems including loose wiring were found at dozens of locations.

The lawsuit says a March 2018 fire in Beaverceek, Ohio, closed the store for eight days. "Ominously, the fire had occurred near gas lines on the store's roof. By stroke of luck, the gas lines remained intact, and catastrophic injuries and damages were averted," the lawsuit states. When fire broke out at a store in Yuba City, Calif., in November last year, wires on the roof were still sparking, even though the panels had been disconnected months earlier, the lawsuit states. Tesla entered the solar business when it acquired SolarCity in 2016, and the lawsuit alleges that it "adopted an ill-considered business model that required it to install solar panel systems haphazardly and as quickly as possible in order to turn a profit," the New York Times reports. (Read more Tesla stories.)

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