Overheated laptop likely cause of blaze

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013
Shane Kenningtonf
Kirk Hargreaves

THE CULPRIT: The heat from the laptop-triggered fire was so intense it melted the front of Shane Kennington's truck parked nearby.

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A malfunctioning laptop has destroyed a Christchurch man's business.

The battery overheated in the laptop yesterday, sparking a fire that devastated Shane Kennington's Avonside garage, from which he runs a radio-control model aircraft venture.

The father of three popped next door to his house, only to return two minutes later to find his garage engulfed in flames.

"There were flames licking out the shop door. There was nothing I could do. All I could do was ring 111," he said.

The heat was so intense it melted the front of his truck, which was parked nearby.

He lost his entire stock and the supplies required to run his business, which was not insured because his home is in the red zone. He plans to leave his home soon.

"There's nothing to salvage in there. It hasn't quite hit me yet," Kennington said last night.

Fire Service senior station officer Symon Mitchell said the laptop was found to be the "most likely" cause of the fire.

He believed the battery overheated as it was being charged.

"It's certainly not unheard of. Worldwide, there have been a few. It's the first one I've been to."

He recommended people who predominantly had their laptop plugged into an electrical socket take the battery out as a precaution. "If you're going anywhere, whack the battery back in."

Fire-safety officer Mark Thomas said it was not uncommon for laptops that were charging in an area with poor ventilation to get extremely hot.

"If your laptop is in the ‘on' position it should always be on a flat surface so that any heat that is created can disperse."

He said there had been other cases of fires caused by laptops in New Zealand.

Firefighters also dealt with a scrub fire on Balmoral Hill yesterday.

A Fire Service spokesman said four engines attended the Glenstrae Rd fire.

Sumner brigade deputy chief fire officer Daryl Sayer said the blaze, which was 300 by 100 metres, was "well flanked" within five minutes.

There were a couple of properties fairly close but they were not threatened.

The cause of the fire was not yet known, Sayer said.

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- The Press

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