Last week in Perugia, Italy, a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) bus caught fire, spectacularly. The fire was put out, the bus was completely destroyed, and thankfully nobody was injured. However, on Twitter, the video is being shared by people claiming it to be an electric bus.
What we have is yet another time when electric vehicles are being unfairly blasted as unsafe. Instead, it is a fossil fuel powered vehicle that had the spectacular fire, and it seems that spectacular fires in fossil fuel powered buses are fairly common.
The image at the top comes from a YouTube posting by Umbria On, titled “Incredibile a Perugia, autobus prende fuoco: il video fa impressione.” There is a companion news article on their website, “Autobus distrutto dal fuoco: nessun ferito.” The word autobus refers to the type of bus shown here.
The fire shown in the video is spectacular. If this were indeed an electric bus on fire, I would be writing a different article right now. But, the news article clearly describes the bus as being “methane-powered”. Natural Gas is technically (chemically) methane, and it seems Italians use that word rather than a variant of natural gas.
Later in the video, we see this image:
The image is captured from the same video by Umbria On. Look carefully, and you see natural gas tanks on the top.
A big clue to remember here – in an electric bus, the batteries won’t be at the top of the bus. Instead, the batteries will be under the floor. The initial fire, in this case, was at the top of the bus.
On Twitter, however, it’s easy to find postings like these:
How do we tell whether these people are simply confused, or whether they are misinformation agents purposely spreading a false story? Some tweets about this incident are clearly meant to spread false stories, and promote Conservative causes.
This person’s Twitter profile says he is an “American Patriot,” an “Constitutional Conservative,” and that Jesus is his Lord. Whatever he found on Telegram is clearly false.
Fortunately, not everyone is confused:
Indeed – why are so many people on Twitter jumping into the fray of using this image to spread a false narrative about electric vehicle safety?
While looking at the Umbria On video linked above, another video was recommended by YouTube. Perugia, incendio a San Marco: autobus avvolto dalle fiamme, by a channel named Umbria24, is another bus fire, in Perugia, from October 2017. It’s not clear what the fuel is, but that the fire was concentrated in the rear where a diesel engine would be located. From that video, YouTube recommended Roma, bus Atac in fiamme in via del Tritone: lo scoppio e la fuga, which is another bus fire, in Rome this time, from May 2018. And, the YouTube recommendations have several more to watch.
There are powerful forces in this world that hope to continue selling us fossil fuels. They have a lot of fossil fuels to sell us, and a fiduciary duty to shareholders to continue doing so. But, that doesn’t mean we have to keep buying their filthy, dangerous fuels. Unfortunately, the fossil fuel companies are very rich, and petrodollars can buy a lot of social media manipulation.
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