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By | Dan Goodin 12th March 2007 23:34

MacBook goes up in flames

Suitable for BBQ marshmallow roasting

In the latest episode of The Laptop Infernos, a MacBook user is reporting his laptop came close to burning his house down after the battery exploded and burst into flames. The MacBook, which was less than a year-old, was charging with the lid shut when it spontaneously ignited at about three in the morning while the user and his girlfriend slumbered.

"My girlfriend said she heard it hissing like a steam valve, then smoke started pouring out of it and a couple of seconds later, a very large flash fire started," he wrote in the Australian website MacTalk (Check out the link for pics of the damage). "I picked it up and blew on it and swung it around to put the flames out."

"The battery is swollen and burnt so it's definitely the battery that exploded and caught fire. The macbook is melted on the bottom and severely charred (along with my bookshelves, books, magazines and the wall). The space bar is melted as is the track pad."

The sad tale brings to mind last year's recall of defective Sony lithium-ion batteries after the discovery they had the potential - and in many cases the demonstrated ability - to cause notebooks made by Dell, Apple, Lenovo and others to turn into toxic of metal and plastic. According to MacRumors, Apple uses Lithium Polymer batteries for its MacBook and MacBook Pro lineup, supposedly because the batteries are less prone to catching fire.

The MacBook owner in this case said he had noticed his MacBook's battery life over the past three weeks had been in decline and the symbol indicating how much juice was left had been acting erratic. Hours before the fire broke out he had trouble getting the machine to wake up. He plugged in the laptop and it started, but the machine indicated the battery reserve was 0 percent. After surfing for a bit, he put the notebook to sleep mode and left it to charge.

As unsettling as it was to pick up and blow on a flaming laptop at 3 AM in your jam-jams, or to lose precious data on his hard drive, the poster said there was one trauma topping the list.

"The smell was the worst part - that burnt plastic smell." ®

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