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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