Apple PowerBook goes up in flames in London office

Written by Ben Hardwidge

February 27, 2009 | 11:26

Tags: #battery #catches #explosion #fire #g4 #lithium #lithium-ion #london #macbook #office #powerbook #recall

Companies: #apple #dell #nokia #sony

Dell earned itself a pretty bad reputation for making laptops with a habit of spontaneously combusting back in 2006. However, it appears that Apple G4 PowerBook laptops based on similar Lithium-Ion batteries are also vulnerable, as one recently went up in 6ft flames in an office in London.

The Inquirer has the full story and pictures of the burnt out laptop from the morning of 25 February, as well as an interview with the IT manager at the anonymous company, Steven. Describing the scene, Steven says that “when I got there, much of the smoke has dissipated and nothing much was happening. I picked up the notebook to investigate, and turned it over. Soon after I put it down again, it basically exploded. Flames were flying six feet in the air, and sparks.”

According to the IT manager, not even a fire marshal emptying half a fire extinguisher onto the machine could quell the laptop inferno. "When he stopped using it, it just fired up again," said Steven. "He used the rest if the extinguisher on it but the laptop was still hot and glowing and the battery was all molten inside and glowing red.” The guys then called the fire brigade to deal with the fiery Mac.

Apple was just as exposed to the 2006 Lithium-Ion battery problems as many other companies were, and initiated its own battery exchange scheme for the PowerBook G4 and iMac G4. It’s likely that the burnt out G4 in question was an old machine that didn’t get its battery replaced. "We are aware that there was a battery recall several years ago,” Steven told The Inquirer, “it is entirely possible that the battery was one of those subject to that recall, but we can't tell now as the battery is now just slag."

This isn’t the first time that an Apple laptop battery has reportedly caught fire. In 2007, a MacBook owner reported a similar story. A number of companies also recalled their Lithium-Ion batteries following the scares, including Nokia , Lenovo and Toshiba. As well as this, The Inquirer also published photos of a Dell laptop in the process of catching fire during a Japanese conference. The overall problem was put down to issues with some of Sony’s Lithium-Ion batteries, and the company issued a global recall in September 2006.

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