Did iPod Cause House Fire?

A faulty <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">iPod is being cited as a possible suspect in a house fire that occurred in Canada over the weekend. Just last week, Apple offered to replace lithium batteries in some of its iPod Nano devices following reports that they had caught fire while charging.

Apple’ offer came after Japanese officials said they were investigating two more reported iPod Nano fires in that country. Apple blamed the fires on defective batteries from a single supplier. The Japanese ministry had also received a similar report of another iPod Nano fire last March. In all of the fires, the iPods began to overheat while they were being recharged.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the iPod Nano fires under investigation involved an iPod Nano, model number MA099, which singed nearby paper in August 2008, and model MA005, which burned a Japanese traditional “tatami” mat, in January. Both players were twisted out of shape from the heat and became unusable.

Neither Apple nor the Ministry would say which manufacturer made the defective batteries. In a written statement, Apple said the defect affected iPod Nanos sold between September 2005 and December 2006. The company’s statement added that “There have been no reports of serious injuries or property damage, and no reports of incidents for any other iPod Nano model.”

Officials in North Vancouver, Canada said an iPod might be to blame for a fire that damaged a townhouse there. No one was home at the time, but a neighbor searched the house after the fire started and rescued a dog from the home. The neighbor suffered smoke exposure as a result and had to be treated at a local hospital. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to an upstairs bedroom.

IPod fires are nothing new. In October 2007, Danny Williams, who worked in a kiosk at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, reported that his iPod Nano caught fire in his pocket. Fortunately, Williams was not injured, although his iPod Nano was destroyed.

IPods use lithium-ion batteries. Lithium batteries have been a known fire risk. On August 24, 2006, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Apple issued a recall of rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries made by Sony for certain iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 notebook computers. The recall was based on nine reports of batteries overheating, two of which involved minor burns.

Last August, Finnish phone maker Nokia recalled some 300 million batteries made by Matsushita between December 2005 and November 2006. In December that same year, Sanyo recalled 1.3 million mobile phone handset batteries for safety reasons.

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