By Russell Holly Feb. 3, 2014 10:55 am
Hearing about a phone catching fire today is both familiar and jarring. It happens just frequently enough that we aren’t completely shocked, but infrequently enough to serve as a sharp reminder that the tiny computer in your hands right now can be quite hazardous to your health if the worst should happen.
Most of the time when a phone catches fire the cause tends to be some third party accessory. A cheap battery replacement, a poorly replaced screen, or an unofficial power cable that wasn’t meant for the device, make up a short list of popular causes for recent incidents. This latest one, however, comes from a 2-month-old iPhone 5C in an environment that shouldn’t have caused such an explosive reaction.
Students at a school in Kennebunk, Maine heard a popping sound when one student sat at her desk with an iPhone 5C in her back pocket. Moments later the student was surrounded by smoke and it became clear that her pants were on fire. The student dropped to the ground and rolled to try and put the fire out, but since the cause was in between two layers of clothing it wasn’t until the smouldering heap of plastic fell from her pants that the event was over. After a brief hospital visit the student was fine, but you can clearly see that the iPhone 5C was dangerously faulty from the image above.
There hasn’t yet been any evidence to suggest third party components or accessories were being used in this case. The phone was only two months old, so it is unlikely that the screen or battery had been replaced, and the device wasn’t connected to a power source. It seems most likely that sitting on the phone punctured the battery somehow, which started the fire from inside the device.
Since we’ve seen the insides of the iPhone 5C and there isn’t anything there ready to poke holes in the battery, it’s more than likely this is not a widespread issue, and a thorough investigation into the cause will probably prove that. You should probably avoid sitting on your iPhone in the mean time. In fact, you should probably avoid sitting on your iPhone altogether.