Product Liability

California Teen’s Dell Laptop Explodes Repeatedly, Home Camera Films Blasts

Dell laptop computer 280x210 California Teen’s Dell Laptop Explodes Repeatedly, Home Camera Films BlastsA California teen and his friend narrowly escaped injury when his Dell Inspiron laptop burst into flames while charging on the living room sofa, then continued to explode over and over again.

Footage from the Thousand Oak, California, home’s security cameras captured the explosions, which start as Devon Johnson, 18, is sitting on the living room couch with a friend eating pizza and playing video games. The Dell laptop charging on the sofa next to them starts shooting black smoke then almost immediately becomes engulfed in a giant fireball.

The explosion is so bright that it triggers the security camera to switch from black and white night-vision mode to full-color daytime mode for a second.

Devon carefully approaches the flaming laptop, which appears to have extinguished itself after scorching the sofa, and carries the device to a glass table on the outdoor patio. He sets Inspiron laptop down on the table just in time for it to explode again with intense white flames and smoke.

The flames dwindle and the laptop appears to be stable, but it erupts again into a fireball.

Devon returns to the smoldering laptop with a fire extinguisher and sprays it, but the laptop explodes a fourth time just as he approaches it for a better look.

According to NBC News Los Angeles, the laptop’s lithium-ion battery was the cause of the explosion. The fiery bursts with intense white flames shooting violently from the device resemble footage from other lithium-ion battery explosions caught on camera, whether in electronic cigarettes, hoverboards, smartphones, other rechargeable devices, and even cars.

Bruce Dunn, professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UCLA and one of the country’s leading experts on lithium-ion batteries, told NBC News Los Angeles that the batteries “get hot for a number of reasons. Sometimes, that heat can be a (manufacturing) defect. And lots of times its abuse. The battery is dropped on the floor, it’s punctured,” Prof. Dunn told NBC News.

Lithium-ion batteries can also malfunction when they are charged with or used in incompatible devices, become overcharged, or are used when damaged.

In 2006 Dell recalled about 4.1 million laptop batteries that were prone to overheat and explode. More recently, Hewlett-Packard recalled 101,000 lithium-ion laptop batteries for the risk of explosion. Toshiba has also recalled about 170,000 laptops over fire and explosion risk in recent weeks.

NBC News Los Angeles
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