PowerBook blows up in London office

According to The Inquirer, an Apple PowerBook shocked office-workers in a London marketing agency when it unexpectedly burst into flames, melting keys on the keyboard and spewing acrid smoke into the room. Although the company asked not to be identified, they allowed pictures of the burnt-out laptop to be published.

"Suddenly flames flew up about six foot in the air and there were sparks flying everywhere. There was a popping sound and more smoke. At that point I just hit the fire alarm and scarpered," said one employee.

According to a witness, the flames that arose from the PowerBook shot straight up to the ceiling.

Fortunately, no one was typing on the machine at the time. (Photos courtesy of The Inquirer)

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is not new.

In 2006 a Dell laptop exploded several times over the course of five minutes at a conference in Japan, leaving onlookers more than a bit uneasy.

Although scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Germany and researchers elsewhere have been working to produce batteries without inflammable materials, we are still some way from benefiting from totally safe batteries. As regards the recent London PowerBook "bomb" incident, it is possible that the battery in question had been the subject of a recall from Apple, but that the marketing company had failed to act.

What, however, would happen if a laptop exploded on a plane? Or, indeed, on someone's lap?

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58 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I LMAO when I read the preview of the article on the front page, then saw the word 'hot' next to the comments count.

Just another one to add to the list.

Yes, the Apple fans are quick to dismiss it as a "battery issue" and not an "Apple issue" but here's the deal. All the hardware is the same as PC hardware, they just slap Apple logos on it. Apple deemed the unit fit to be sold and it still catches fire. That makes it an Apple issue.

With all the incidents of Apple laptops catching fire, I'm surprised there hasn't been a lawsuit yet.

On a side note, does anyone else get the laptop cooling device ad on this page beside the article? Ha ha ha.... "This could happen to YOU! Buy a cooling device NOW!"

Well, the fact of the matter is that it is a battery issue and apple has offer a recall on such affected batteries. It was the same with sony, as well as other pc makers, since they use the same explosive batteries. Since batteries as also used on PC notebooks, does that also make it their fault that the batteries combust? No, its the battery makers fault..namely Sony's

Neztea

Doesn't really matter what company it is, they're responsible for overseeing that the components are fit for their product. Given that Apple products "cost more" due to the "thorough" testing they endure, you'd think that things like this would be caught ahead of time.

Though, I suppose it's hard to test something that may happen over time.

Sh** happens... Lith. batteries can short & overheat, maybe explode. It's an increased risk we take when we want longer battery life in a smaller size. Then again most batteries can explode given the right circumstances/conditions, but they sure beat carrying around yards/meters of extension cords, don't they?

Very, very little in life is risk free -- we just don't like to talk about it. ;-)

NeoFlux said,
By any chance was this one of the Laptops related to the huge re-call of batteries a couple of years back?


More than likely. So it is the company's own fault for not taking advantage of the free battery replacement when they had the chance.

alan said,
and thats why i dont go for a mac

Fantastic news, your Windows laptops are still as vulnerable! Lots of them blew up in recent years.

jamesyfx said,
Fantastic news, your Windows laptops are still as vulnerable! Lots of them blew up in recent years.

yeah. Microsoft stole another feature from Apple.


Not that Microsoft makes notebooks... but who cares.

"yeah. Microsoft stole another feature from Apple.
Not that Microsoft makes notebooks... but who cares."

that's the most ignorant comment i think i've ever seen...

wookietv said,
that's the most ignorant comment i think i've ever seen...

Oh really? How so...

I think the point was, there was no need to bring up Windows. It's the manufacturer that should be looked at.

Stew Gilray said,
I think I actually know which company this is...

I'm trying to get a hold of the IT guy to find out :)


why's it even matter? who cares?

why's it even matter? who cares?

You cared enough to ask.

ohhh pw0ned! You gotta love the irony of someone replying to a thread with "who cares?" Sadly, it is happening a lot on Neowin and I think people should start getting warnings for such OT non-sense.

Sam Symons Live said,
The real horror is why are they still using a PowerBook.

They're still using old Mac desktops as well. Keyboard is a dead giveaway.

God I'm sad. Who cares.

jamesyfx said,
They're still using old Mac desktops as well. Keyboard is a dead giveaway.

God I'm sad. Who cares.

The old pro keyboard is a nice keyboard though - I was using one on my Windows PC for a while as I just liked the feel of the keys compared to my cheapie keyboard that came with the PC!

Is it possible to test or even think about every fault that can happen on an electronic device? I think any electronic device with powerful batteries, inverters etc. should be prohibited in airplanes. Even a Li-Po battery can be extremely dangerous itself.

Yeah, it's a bit odd how mobile phones with very little evidence that they can interfer with airplane equipment are disallowed, but something that could explode in the cabin isn't.

...and this is why you always buy the latest Apple products the second they are released. Just so the old one doesn't get lonely and explode

I wonder if anyone has ever described an eyewitness account without starting it with the word 'suddenly', or the phrase, 'all of a sudden'?

Did you guys not check out the link to the Japanese incident? These laptop bombs are quite surprising and a bit random and a bit, well anyway sometimes, surprising and astonishing. "Gosh, geewillakers, did that thing just make a smidgen of a bang and puff out a whiff of smoke? Oh dear."

Escalade_GT said,
If flames flew 6 feet in the air, don't you think there would be more damage to the top of the powerbook?

ya.... i think it would have done more damage... six feet of flame would be as tall as me... thats crazy with so little damage.

Flame resistant plastics aren't used in Europe because of (ahem) environmental concerns. 6 foot flames can happen and not cause as much damage if the fuel package is appropriate, and this likely was.

This mac wasn't birthed specially in Steve Jobs private chambers in Guandong Province. Hope they got some extended AppleCare.

Apple Fanboi's Attack!

Hope they got some extended AppleCare.

I hope Apple got their own AppleCare. You do realize that these kinds of things can explode into lawsuits..right?