Cellphone fires are rare, but possible

Just having read your article on e-cigarette batteries catching fire, I was wondering if that same problem could happen with cellphone batteries. Is that a concern?

— Marilyn H., Central Point

Lithium-ion batteries have been in the news lately because they can sometimes catch on fire. For instance, Marilyn, you may have read that Boeing's Dreamliner 787 was grounded for months when lithium batteries caught on fire.

In early March, Medford Fire-Rescue reported two lithium batteries in e-cigarettes overheated causing two Medford fires.

An overheating e-cigarette caused a mattress to catch fire at one house, but the flames were quickly extinguished by a resident.

At another house, an e-cig exploded while being charged, sending bits of burning battery flying into the ceiling and walls. A hot piece of battery landed on a pillow, causing it to smolder and filling the house with smoke.

The batteries that power our laptops also have been known to overheat occasionally. According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 100,000 laptops were recalled in 2010 because the batteries posed overheating and fire hazards.

The CPSC has issued recalls for cellphone batteries in the past, and a Google search showed two recent cases of cellphones catching fire.

A Feb. 21 article out of Rochester, Minn., said an eighth-grader received second-degree burns after his cellphone battery exploded in his pocket while he was at school.

A Feb. 6 article from the Associated Press reported that a cellphone with a lithium battery exploded in a man's pocket in South Korea.

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