, Newburyport, MA

February 26, 2010

Student's iPod explodes in class

By Katie Curley Katzman

WEST NEWBURY — When a song becomes popular, teens might say it's "blowing up." At Pentucket Regional High School yesterday, the term took on a more literal meaning.

Police and fire officials were called to a science room at Pentucket Regional High School yesterday after a student's iPod music player spontaneously exploded on her desk.

West Newbury fire Chief Scott Berkenbush said the situation proved to be minor, and no one was hurt.

"Some chemicals had come out, so we checked and made sure it was OK and cleared the scene," he said. "No one was transported. The teenager was checked out by (American Medical Response technicians) and not transported."

However, the incident was not the first for Apple, the maker of iPod, which has been sued for the device catching fire or exploding in people's pockets.

Last March, Apple was sued by the mother of a 15-year-old Ohio boy, who said his 16GB iPod Touch exploded in his pants pocket, burning his leg. According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio available online, the boy "heard a loud pop and immediately felt a burning sensation in his leg."

The teen suffered second-degree burns as a result of the explosion, according to the complaint, and was seeking in excess of $225,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

In Atlanta in 2007, a man reported his iPod caught fire in his pocket, burning a hole through his jeans.

Ars Technica, an online technology news Web site, has reported a number of incidents of iPods catching fire or exploding, including a New York Times report that the European Commission inquired with Apple about exploding iPhones.

There have been no reports of serious injury resulting from the incidents.

For a majority of the cases, Apple has claimed they are not liable. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has suggested iPods' lithium batteries could be to blame for the problem.

In 2006, Apple and Dell recalled millions of lithium ion batteries because of overheating problems in laptop computers causing fires. More than 250 million iPods have been sold worldwide, and yesterday Apple announced it hit 10 billion songs sold.

West Newbury's Berkenbush said he has no idea why the iPod spontaneously exploded.

He said with a laugh, "iPod is the new Toyota. I think the problem is with the battery itself. If any moisture gets on it or it falls in a puddle, it can spark."