iPod Fire Reports Prompt CPSC ProbeOct 15, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Reports of Apple iPods overheating and catching fire have caught the attention of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). According to a report on KPHO-TV, the commission is investigating 18 such iPod incidents.
The 18 cases being investigated by the CPSC include:
• In 2002, an iPod in a 14-year-old Michigan boy's bedroom set off a smoke alarm in the middle of the night.
• In 2006, an iPod started smoking and sparking in the middle of the night at one Illinois residence. It was so hot that it burned the stereo it was sitting on.
• In 2007, a 4-inch flame shot out of an iPod while it was charging in Washington, D.C.
• Also in 2007, a man's shirt caught fire in Atlanta when the iPod in his pocket overheated.
According to KPHO-TV, other iPod fires have been reported in New York, Washington state and Portland, Ore. The station's investigative reporter uncovered many cases of iPods, iPod Touches and iPhones overheating, catching fire and, in some cases, exploding. Some of these incidents resulted in bodily injuries.
KPHO also reported that lithium batteries appeared to be behind the iPod fires. As we reported previously, in October 2008, Sony recalled thousands of lithium batteries used in used in Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Dell laptop computers because they could overheat and cause a fire hazard.
Several consumers who claim to have experienced iPod fires told KPHO that Apple's response to their complaints was less than adequate. Apples responded to the KPHO investigation with the following statement:
"iPods are incredibly well designed and safety is the highest priority for Apple. The number of confirmed incidents of batteries overheating is less that 0.0001 percent of all iPods sold, which is an incredibly small percentage and none of those incidents caused serious injury or serious property damage. If a customer has any concerns about their battery they should contact AppleCare."
This isn't the first time we've heard of Apple iPod fires. In August 2008, we reported that Japanese officials said they were investigating several reported iPod Nano fires in that country. In all of the fires, the iPods began to overheat while they were being recharged. Apple blamed the fires on defective batteries from a single supplier. That same month, Apple offered to replace lithium batteries in some of its iPod Nano devices following reports that they had caught fire while charging.