After a man in Växjö awoke this week to find his apartment filled with smoke, it emerged that his laptop, which was recharging, had exploded and set fire to the stool it was sitting on.
The accident occurred on Wednesday morning and the man was taken to hospital. He had suffered light smoke injuries but was later released.
Only when the police technicians took a closer look at the fire scene did they establish the cause: despite the fact that the laptop was switched off, a battery cell had exploded.
Similar accidents have been reported in the past with, for example, mobile phones using cheap batteries instead of the original – but this is the first time such an explosion has been reported with a computer’s original battery.
The fact that the computer was sitting on a material-covered wooden stool apparently did not help matters once the fire started.
Växjö police say that there is good reason to warn people not to let recharging laptops out of their sight, but the Swedish Rescue Services Agency played down the risk.
“Fires in computers and mobile phones are so uncommon that we don’t actually have any statistics on it,” said one of the agency’s fire inspectors, Ulf Erlandsson, to TT.
However, that did not stop Sweden’s tabloids from trumpeting the risk from their front pages as if every laptop ought to come with a fire extinguisher.
But Erlandsson pointed out that computers and mobiles are made from materials which are more fire-resistant than, say, televisions.
“So I really don’t think a public warning about extra vigilance while recharging laptops is necessary – but people should always use the original battery,” he said.
“And get a fire alarm. They save lives.”