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JBL: Speaker that caught fire in New Jersey home wasn't ours

A tweet about a flaming speaker caught the attention of the media and created a small firestorm for JBL.

The charred remains of the speaker.
Screenshot by David Carnoy

Yesterday, Cliffside, New Jersey resident Nichole Tatem tweeted an image and short video of the charred remains of her Bluetooth speaker after she said it had caught fire in her daughter's bed.

The media, always on the lookout for electronic devices spontaneously catching fire, was quick to jump on the smoldering speaker story. There was only one problem: While Tatem tweeted out to JBL Audio -- as well as Target and Best Buy -- it was unclear whether the product in question was actually a JBL speaker.

The tweets, shown below, were later deleted, as was the original tweet that included the smoldering speaker, but not before it was saved for posterity in several TV broadcasts, including the New York CBS2 segment shown below. (CBS is CNET's parent company.)

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

To my eyes, the speaker in the video looks like a cheap knock-off of the JBL Pulse line. I tweeted out to Tatem, asking her what model the speaker was, but she hasn't yet responded.

Today a JBL spokesperson responded to CNET's earlier inquiry to let us know that the company was not the manufacturer of the speaker that caught fire. "The Cliffside fire department reaffirmed what we believed from our evaluation of the video," the spokesperson wrote. "It does not appear to be a JBL product. They also have indicated it has no JBL branding on it."

While last year's Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is perhaps the poster child for gadget fires -- and the reason why the company is taking great pains to ensure that its new Galaxy S8 is a paragon of battery safety -- we've seen reports of battery fires on wireless headphones, MacBooks and iPhones in recent months. And suffice it to say, no company wants its see its charred logo all over social media and TV coverage. That's doubly true for JBL, which -- following the acquisition of parent company Harman -- is now owned by Samsung.

If you ever encounter a flaming or smoldering gadget, here's the safest way to handle the situation.

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