Dell laptop explodes, burns woman

Fire experts say the most likely reason a woman has singed hair and burns is that the laptop's battery malfunctioned.

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Loretta Luff. CBS Philadelphia screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

One tends to hear more of phones exploding than laptops.

It seems, though, that the latter can blow up too, as one Pennsylvania woman discovered to her misfortune.

72-year-old Loretta Luff says that she was checking email and playing spider solitaire when her Dell Inspiron laptop simply exploded. The battery pack flew across the room.

"The next thing I knew, my shirt was on fire, I grabbed that and took that off and I think that's when I singed my hair," she told CBS Philadelphia.

Luff ended up with burns to her foot, arm and face. "My foot is the worst," she told ABC Philadelphia. "And I think when I came down on a piece of the hot battery part, I came down and stepped on that."

 

Her carpet, desk and even her dog's bed were damaged. She told Philly.com that doctors had to remove "stuff" from her nostrils.

Preliminary examination by firefighters suggests -- as is often the case with cell phone fires -- that the battery might have been the culprit.

Dell, in a statement alluded to the idea that the battery may not have been an approved one.

It read, in part: "Dell will take appropriate steps to investigate this incident. It's also important to note that, in our product documentation, Dell tells customers that "using an incompatible battery or a third-party battery may increase the risk of fire or explosion and that they should replace the battery only with a battery purchased from Dell that is designed to work with their Dell computer."

Luff, of Langhorne Manor, told CBS that she had replaced the battery, but didn't know whether the replacement was Dell-approved.

Still, Luff said of the explosion: "It blew up and flipped my computer back."

The laptop was six years old and had been given to her by her daughter. She now says that if she gets a replacement, she'll take the battery out overnight.

Or, perhaps, make sure that it's not a counterfeit.

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