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Devon Johnson, 18, proceeded to extinguish the fire and place the charred laptop on his back patio where it exploded for a second, third, and fourth time—each time erupting into a ball of flame and, at one point, nearly shooting sparks into the young man’s face.
The incident took place in Thousand Oaks, California, just outside of Los Angeles, and was first reported by NBC4.
“We are coordinating with Mr. Johnson to retrieve the product and will conduct a complete investigation to validate its origin and understand its full history,” Dell told NBC4 in a statement. “There is a wide spectrum of potential reasons for what’s seen in the video.”
Dell released a statement on Twitter regarding the incident.
The company will be hoping its popular, mid-tier Inspiron line isn’t the next to fall victim to poorly designed lithium-ion batteries. Dell is right when it says the fire could have originated for many different reasons. Anything from a poorly designed cell from a third-party manufacturer to damage to the device’s chassis could lead to thermal runaway.
You can read the company’s full statement on its website, which includes a warning on the need to use approved batteries.
Update 12:53pm CT, Feb. 9: A spokesperson from Dell provided the following statement regarding the incident:
We have concluded our full investigation. The battery involved was not manufactured by Dell and was not an authentic Dell battery. Dell batteries contain Dell intellectual property that helps ensure safety. Remember, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions for all electronic devices. Incompatible, counterfeit or third-party batteries may increase the risk of a safety related incident.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.