I read a story early this morning talking about Musk's posting, and the author described the three car fires as "engulfed in flames". Similar language was used in early October; engulfed, erupted, etc.
In one case, the car provided dashboard cautions immediately after collision with road debris, then warnings, then the driver pulled over a couple of minutes later, the pack was smoking, he was able to get his belongings, etc. The interior of the car remained accessible and intact.
Meanwhile, I've witnessed, fought, and heard from friends who had car fires. It typically goes something like this: smoke from somewhere. Seconds, maybe 30 if you're lucky, there are flames. Within a minute or two the car is unsalvageable. In a crash in a gasoline car, the car can be on fire within seconds, and it can be a massive fire; rear collisions break up the fuel systems, front crashes cause both oil and gasoline to leak all over hot engine exhaust parts.
Firefighters generally don't rush to car fires because by the time they got the dispatch call, the car was already gone anyway; they're there mostly to put it out so the wrecker can collect it. Seriously, go look on youtube at car fires. Within the space of a minute or two, the car is well past the point of no return.
The hyperbolization here is amazing. Years ago Bose had a little problem with their car audio systems; the electrolytic capacitors would leak the electrolyte, which would then drip down the circuit board. In some cars, the amplifier board was positioned such that this would cause a short that would at the least cause smoking, and caused several fires.
One owner described driving down the highway, hearing the stereo crackle and drop out, looking in the back window and seeing smoke, racing over to the breakdown lane and getting out and the back shelf was already in flames; he barely had time to stop the car and escape an INTERIOR PASSENGER COMPARTMENT FIRE. In a less-than-a-year-old Audi. Reportedly Audi's regional rep inspected the burned-to-the-ground car and the customer got a replacement car.
Audi, Infiniti, Corvette, and a couple of other companies were affected; recalls were made for everyone except Audi; a bunch of Audi owners banded together when Audi refused to fix the damaged speakers, and kept selling defective units to replace failed ones. nhtsa refused to discuss with us whether they had reports of other fires or failures and refused to allow owners to speak to the person handling the investigation; Audi USA repeatedly claimed they hadn't ever heard of any malfunctions or fires, when we knew they'd paid for replacement vehicles a decade prior, and continued to claim as such even after other owners had sent in registered mail complaints and received confirmation.
Lo and behold, nhtsa finally got interested and Audi revised the amp board and did a voluntary recall. Presto, no more failures. They spent years milking owners (the amps would last a few years at most before failure.)
Then there's all the exotic cars that go up in flames; car enthusiast sites cover them routinely. Funny how Ferrari and Lambo never seems to get mentioned in the press as having a lot of car fires, huh? That's what the best money in PR gets you: shit swept under the rug fast.