26 July 2014
Samsung Cell Phone Fire
by Steve Noviello, Fox 4 Dallas-Fort Worth, 25 July 2014
A 13-year-old North Texas girl was awoken in the night by a smoldering cell phone on the other side of her pillow, but the cell phone manufacturer says she did something they warn users about.
Ariel Tolfree loves using her Samsung Galaxy S4.
“It's really like, nice and pretty,” said Tolfree. “It's high tech.”
Every chance she gets, she texts her friends and gets on social media apps like Instagram and Twitter.
But during FOX 4’s visit with her, she had to borrow her dad's S3 phone, because her phone is burned so badly, it's barely recognizable.
”The whole phone melted,” said her dad, Thomas. “The plastic, the glass. You can't even really tell that it was a phone.”
Tolfree says her phone slipped under her pillow as she fell asleep, and the smell of something burning woke her up in the night.
“I didn't think much of it, so I went back to sleep, and then I woke up again and it was more prominent,” said Tolfree.
Her dad suspects the phone overheated, causing the battery to swell and start a fire.
The Tolfree family had seen FOX 4’s recent series of reports on swelling baby monitor batteries, which led to a nationwide recall.
The Tolfrees contacted Samsung, and then FOX 4.
“We have a reasonable expectation that the products we buy are going to be safe,” said Thomas.
A spokesperson for Samsung says their products are safe, and pointed out that the battery inside the phone was a replacement unit and not an original Samsung part.
Nevertheless, the company does agree there is a need for consumer education when it comes to rechargeable batteries. That’s exactly why they post a warning in their user guide, which specifically states covering one of their devices with bedding or other material could restrict airflow and cause a fire.
Tolfree and her dad, though, didn’t read that warning.
“If anything, they should put a big warning on it, like a cigarette label, if that’s the case,” said Thomas.
Tolfree says she doesn’t think people should sleep with their phones and instead, should put them on a nightstand.
The Samsung spokesperson said they take any instance of a battery fire very seriously.
They have requested the burned phone be sent to them so they can fully investigate.
FOX 4 will continue to follow up.
In the meantime, the phone, the bedding, the mattress and pillow will all be replaced by Samsung.