A decade-old iPhone recently caught fire while charging in a family’s kitchen, and the combustion was caught on video. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire was extinguished, but the images are alarming as they occurred overnight while the family was sleeping.
The fire occurred with an iPhone 4, a model that was introduced 12 years ago, so no one should worry about modern iPhones catching fire. However, the incident highlights the importance of knowing what can cause a battery to burn.
Brian and Jennifer Leisgang of Ohio shared details of what happened in a Facebook post. The family says a Google Home product in the kitchen that was set to record always caught the video.
In the post, the family describes how dangerous the situation could have been:
We were very lucky to avoid a house fire. Our kids were charging our old iPhone 4 with the Apple charger last night and it exploded and caught fire in our kitchen while we were sleeping.
Fortunately, we just cleaned the counter yesterday, since [usually] has a lot of school books and papers in that area. There we have little pieces of the phone and black soot all over the counter this morning.
Lithium-ion batteries are common in electronics and battery fires are rare, but there are conditions that cause rechargeable batteries to overheat and burn out. Common causes include exposure to fire, puncture damage, and manufacturing defects.
As for this specific iPhone, one of a few things likely happened. Cheap chargers are usually the culprits for batteries catching fire, although the charging cable seems to be in good condition here.
The age of the iPhone is also a factor. Older iPhones do not increase the risk of fire, but battery care is essential. A 12-year-old iPhone that’s still in use will either have a replacement battery or live on a charger to stay powered.
Keeping an old battery connected to a charger can cause the battery to overcharge and overheat. Battery replacement, while necessary, must also be handled with care. Relying on an Apple Authorized Service Provider will ensure that the correct procedure is followed and genuine parts are used.
Lithium ion batteries can also expand over time. A chemical reaction within the battery provides power, but the chemical reaction can fail over time and create a gas. This causes the battery to swell, greatly increasing the risk of it catching fire. Bulging batteries should always be handled with care and replaced.
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