Fire emergency officials in Tianjin’s Wuqing District branch announced the incident on an official Weibo microblog account that the “material that caught fire was lithium batteries inside the production workshops and some half-finished products.” They added that 110 firefighters and 19 trucks were sent to extinguish the fire.
The incident occurred around 6 a.m. inside Samsung’s SDI Co Ltd factory. SDI, along with China’s Amperex Technology Ltd. manufactured the lithium-ion batteries that powered Samsung’s Note 7 smartphones, which were recalled twice last year over lithium-ion battery fires and explosions before ultimately being scrapped permanently.
According to Reuters, SDI is the manufacturer that will supply Samsung’s Galaxy S8 phone, which replaces the Galaxy Note 7. The S8 is in development and has not yet been released.
The Galaxy Note 7 disaster cost Samsung more than $5 billion in losses. The Korean tech manufacturer has been working furiously to put the Note 7 crisis behind it and remain competitive in the Smartphone market.
A Samsung SDI spokesperson gave a slightly different account of the incident, saying that the fire started in a part of the factory used for waste, including damaged and discarded batteries – not on the production line.
Rumors in the tech world say that Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone will launch on March 29, with a release date of April 21. Industry analysts will be watching the Tianjin factory fire incident closely to determine whether lithium-ion battery defects continue to haunt Samsung and delay release of the S8.