Laptop Fire

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James Bayliss is an active community member of ours. He was the creator of the “bouncing Chris heads”. I got an email from him with a picture attached of a burned-up laptop! It actually happened to his Macbook Pro today. He was on a Skype call with me for this video. James is now having to use Vista on his Windows machine, and it won’t recognize his web cam.

James says that he was sitting at his desk and reading Digg. He heard a pop, and suddenly the MBP started sparking and smoking… and his desk started catching on fire, too! He was slapping at the small flames to get them put out, and burned his hand. He then called Apple, and started explaining the problem. He had to answer nearly 100 questions on the phone. They even asked if he had to call the fire department, or if they needed to send out an adjuster to check for damage to his house.

They don’t want him even touching the machine, due to potential danger. He’s not sure exactly what happened. He feels it was likely a processor or something. He says it is so melted, it’s impossible to tell. James also noted that a flame literally shot OUT of the MBP! We’re really hoping this is an isolated freak incident, and won’t lead to any kind of recall. From the picture, it looks like the melted area is on the back, towards the bottom of the machine.

At the time it happened, James wasn’t even doing anything processor intensive. He was simply browsing on Digg, and checking his email. He heard the pop and picked up the machine… only to have flames start shooting out while it was in his hands!! The machine was less than a year old. Apple was extremely cordial to this point, and are willing to do whatever they can to take care of this properly. They are even willing to check for damage to his desk, and anything else in his room at the time. It’s wonderful to see that Apple is so far ready to jump in to make this right. The actual Head of Apple Europe gave James his email and private home phone number.

James plans to keep me informed as this unfolds, and let me know how things go. While this was an unfortunate incident… all of us in the community are really glad you’re ok.

Luke Skywalker

After posting this, I received several follow-up emails from other readers who have unfortunately encountered similar problems. This email comes from Patrick:

I had a similar situation with my MacBook two months ago. I was in a room adjacent to the room where the MacBook was, playing my 360. I paused the game to use the restroom, and I smelled something extremely hot. I started walking around the house to see what was hot. As I walked into the room where the MacBook was, I saw the connection between the Magsafe power adapter and the power port on the MacBook was glowing red! I immediately unplugged the power adapter. This happened about 3:00 AM in the morning. I called apple only to find out they were closed.

POST UPDATE A few weeks after posting this, I received the following email from Tom.

I have heard something that you might be interested to know. A friend of mine who bought a Mac Pro awhile back was experiencing problems with his battery charge running down faster than it should. For instance, a full battery charge would be run down in under a half hour! He contacted Apple, who advised him to take it in to a local Apple store. He did that, and the tech who looked it over kept trying to get the laptop away from my friend, saying he was very lucky. Apparently, they have been going through problems with batteries overheating, and in some cases even exploding. He talked to my friend about it, telling him a number of people had reported their Macbooks expanding over time. He demonstrated this by putting the laptop down on the counter, and spinning it around. Low and behold, it was lifted slightly from the counter by the bulging battery!! The tech told my friend he was lucky, due to the severity of his particular case. Most others had exploded before reaching such a point! Needless to say, they replaced his battery free of charge, and gave his Macbook a thorough testing. All has been well since then.


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67 thoughts on “Laptop Fire”

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  4. In my opinion thats amasing, i say amasing because i belive the person hwo made that laptop love windows, and it made it to piss off some one on the mac marquet, but o well it is not like all the macs are going to have that problem whit there engineering or there manufacturing that offen, im looking foward for my new macbook pro and i hope not to have that or any problem, pray for me lol.

  5. Glad that Jame’s didn’t get hurt or anything. Tho, I guess it’s time for that Apple fire sell!

    Heh, if this had been a PC, the OEM woulda started blaming Vista.. lol

  6. That scares me a little, makes me think twice about putting my Macbook on my lap. Good thing he has Apple care! Its good to know Apple isn’t blaming him and leaving him with a dead laptop.

  7. Yeah, it scares me, and makes me want to reconsidering buying a Mac Book, or at that even VMware… I hope it doesn’t happen to me. Hope he gets a refund atleast.

  8. wow. some scary stuff. good to hear apple is gonna take care of him though. I havent heard anything like this before with apple. things happen, I think this is isolated. I still want a Macbookpro :D

  9. That’s wild. Good thing that Apple Support is taking care of James. Moreover, good thing he wasn’t hurt!

  10. Thats crazy. Hope its just a Isolated Issue and that there wont be a Recall because that wont be too good.

  11. Wow. I I hope this is isolated problem if not apple will be pissed. Come on a recall on macbooks. How is that going to sound. Don’t get me wrong I like apple.

    Its for like the FSOD( fiery screen of death)

  12. I would recommend anybody who has this kind of experience to get away from the burning equipment immediately. Even in modern electronics equipment, wher the RoHS (Reduction of Hazadous Substances) initiative is reducing the toxicity of electronic equipment, they still contain elements and compounds that are toxic if burned.

  13. Wow never heard such a story about a laptop fire. I have herd a few years ago about the battry recall in dell laptops, but this is the first story in a few years I heard about fires. Hope everything turns out ok, also thank goodness no one was hurt. Good Luck.

  14. This story doesn’t surprise me at all. There have been many times that my PowerBook G4 has gotten so hot I was afraid it was going to catch fire and had to turn it off. The well known overheating problems of Apple notebooks along with the many problems they have had with their batteries were the main reasons I decided to go back to a Windows Laptop recently. I purchased a Dell XPS 1530 laptop running Windows Vista and have been very happy with it so far. Of course I have had it for only 2 months so that opinion might change over time.

    In my opinion Apple has some serious design and/or quality control problems with their laptops. I have been an Apple user for over 5 years having purchased an iMac, Powerbook, airport, and Apple TV from them in that time. The Apple TV has the same overheating problems. Apple writes it off by saying that it is designed to be that way.

    I love their software and my iMac but I couldn’t in good conscience recommend someone buy one of their laptops.

  15. I have heard plenty of people complain about how hot the macbook pro gets while even light use, so im not exactly surprised. I am however worried how this will affect apple, and their products in the future, hopefully this is freak thing, but my guess is that it isn’t and more and more of this kind of thing will be brought up. Im definately going to be getting the extended apple care for my iMac after seeing this.

  16. Dell Latitude (built circa 1994) spewed smoke after about 4 years of service, from tft board on monitor bezel, didn’t catch fire but did require a new board, as the processor melted away from the board…

  17. I’m calling shenanigans. This guy dropped water on his computer or something. I’ve taken apart hundreds of macbook pros and powerbooks and here’s what bothers me about this image.

    A. The part that is melted is the clutch cover, it covers the inverterboard which supplies sound to the backlight. Odd thing the inverter board, as a simple converter, it doesn’t exude any heat. Even when it’s not working well. It’s a circuit board about ten cm long and one cm wide with plugs on either side. There is nothing that could cause an inverter board to get hot enough, IN THE MIDDLE, to melt the clutch cover.

    B. The scorching on the bottom casing. This scorching doesn’t line up with the fans, the heatsink, or the processors. The heatsink/fans on the macbook pro/powerbooks channel heat to the right and left of the bottom case ventilation channel, NOT the middle. There just isn’t any component capable of making enough heat to melt the plastic where it’s melted. This doesn’t add up from a technical standpoint.

    This seems like a ploy to get attention for pirillo’s blog, but for his sake I hope it’s not. I’m afraid of Apple Legal and I’ve never even worked for the company. Hope this is legit, because if it isn’t there’s no way it’ll stand up if and when the Apple wolves bring the defamation suit smackdown.

  18. Here is my burn magsafe connector on the laptop side.

    Its not as bad as the one in the story, but it looks like it won’t be long.

    I took it to the Apple store to get it fixed, and they only replaced the cord, and would not fix the left i/o board that was burnt because of their defective product.

  19. Reason #51 to switch from Mac to Windows: You get to choose hardware that won’t blow up in your face or burn your house down. With the Mac, you only get one choice: The exploding kind.

    This is already on digg!

    Man that really sucks. But lets cross our fingers and hope this is an isolated incident, or else we will be looking at some wild ass headlines.

    More Fiery macs!
    Mac Boom!
    Help! My mac is on FIre!

  21. this makes me worried, i mean what if my one blows up it would be a knightmare to fix i know one thing i am going to start to put money aside just in case it dose blow up in my face

    i hope he gets it fixed soon ( lucky his one being under a year old and all )

    – neo37256

  22. I can definitely believe it happened, because it happened to me. My revision two Macbook (black, 2ghz, 1gb DDR2-667, 120gb, 10.4.8) similarly caught fire while I was sitting at my granite counter watching “V For Vendetta” last July. However, my fire was clearly caused by a Lithium fuel cell in the Sony battery collapsing; luckily my hand was not over the left side of the keyboard, or it would have been rather crispy. I can confirm that yes, calls to AppleCare about these incidents are long and arduous, and yes, they do ask you easily over one-hundred questions. I ended up sending it to 1 Infinite Loop so that “Engineering” could examine it. My claim was eventually elevated to Executive Relations, but in the end they sent me the equivalent-priced model available at the time. Lots of calls, emails, faxes, boxes, waiting, trips to FedEx, waiting, some legalese, and more waiting. But it does happen.

  23. By the way, you won’t hear the stories from many people who settled these claims, since settlement is dependent on the signing of an NDA. I was lucky to have brought up the issue publicly before that time, so I can still relay what happened. But as far as specifics go, I’ve unfortunately already said all I am permitted to say. Keep that in mind; there are probably more of these cases than you think. Come to think of it, I bet they’re not just limited to Apple either..

  24. What is this all about? I suppose it is like so many things.. The majority do not post on this sort of site, only the minority with issues.. I have had a macbook pro thing for a year or so and it has been on (on and off my lap,) but on for the last Month without even turning off (on AC power of course). Yes, it gets a little warm at times when I am streaming stuff through the apple to bridge to separate networks.. The disk (went for the 7,200 rpm one) is a dream.. and no problems ever. I find it amusing that people are saying go to windows or even upgrade.. I was on Vista before and a couple of my laptops still are (work ones).. But my macbook has been a dream… Running Fusion referencing two external disks for images, Oracle, MS SQL, Solaris all at the same time.. It has been the best buy I think I have ever made…. Since them am looking at AppleTV next.. And the whole thing started from liking the Ipod Nano….. Way to go Steve Jobs…..

  25. I wasn’t trying to put you down or anything Bucks311, I was just pointing out the irony in griping about how computers suck while you use one… call it what you will. Irreverence perhaps?

  26. if you dont want the lack of respect i showed you, dont disrespect someone first. how about we stop this nonsence before it becomes too funny

  27. i’ve had a battery on my old duo (powerbook) go out…since the cases on those were plactic, it melted and warped the case as well! ahh, memories.

  28. I hope that its a very isolated case since i plan on getting a macbook pro for college next year, and i don’t believe other students will be to happy if my macbook bursts into flames

  29. Wow, i can’t believe my eyes. I really hope this is an isolated incident if not apple is going to be in deep trouble.


  31. one mans dell laptop started his house on fire…he was at work….while the battery was recharging it exploded….causing his house to burn down

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