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Watch: iPhone explodes while family sleeps | 'We were extremely lucky to avoid a house fire'

Brian Leisgang said the phone was charging overnight in the kitchen
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Posted at 3:20 PM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 10:20:00-05

GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Plugging our phone in is something we all do before going to bed at night. No one expects to wake up and find it melted in a pile of soot. That's what happened to Brian Leisgang and his family at their home in Green Township.

Around 1 a.m. Monday, an iPhone 4 that Leisgang's children use was charging on the kitchen counter when it burst into flames. The small blast was caught on a motion-detecting camera in the living room.

iPhone 4 catches fire while family sleeps

He, his wife and his five young kids slept through everything and didn't notice something was wrong until they were getting ready for school and work that morning.

"There were small pieces of the phone and black soot all over the counter," Leisgang said.

Leisgang told WCPO he went to bed around 30 minutes before it happened and that it could've been so much worse.

"We were extremely lucky to avoid a house fire," Leisgang said. "Luckily we had just cleaned off the counter."

Leisgang said usually that part of the kitchen is filled with schoolbooks, homework, and various other papers that could've easily caught fire.

He believes the fire likely burned itself out within a few minutes because his smoke detector did not go off.

Leisgang said he bought the phone new a long time ago when it first came out and now lets his kids use it. He said he's never had the battery replaced and he's always used an Apple charger.

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Leisgang said he shared the video on social media in hopes of helping to prevent a fire in someone else's house.

WCPO reached out to Apple for a comment, but they declined to discuss the Liesgang's situation.

What happened to the Leisgang family is not an isolated incident with smartphones.

The European Union launched an investigation in 2009 after "multiple instances of iPhones and iPod Touches exploding or catching fire midflight were reported in the U.K., Holland, France and Sweden," according to ABC News,

In 2012, tech website CNET reported that a Colorado woman woke up to a "sizzling iPhone 4" next to her hotel bed. More recently, in 2021, a Samsung Galaxy A21 caught fire on an Alaska Airlines flight.

Your smartphone randomly exploding is extremely unlikely, and according to experts, it almost always has to do with the battery.

Many smartphones, including the iPhone 4, are made with a lithium-ion battery. According to the tech publication website "PC Mag," if something goes wrong with the inner components of the battery, it can break down, overheat and create a dangerous reaction that could cause a fire.

Here are some things that increase the risk for a phone fire or battery explosion, according to PC Mag:

  • Physical damage
  • Leaving the phone in the sun for too long
  • Malware overworking the CPU
  • Phone production flaws
  • Batteries degrade over time so the older the device, the more likely a phone is to overheat

How do to prevent your phone from exploding?

Again, the likelihood of this happening is extremely rare. But if you are still worried about it, here are a few suggestions from PC Mag on how to limit your risk:

  • Get a phone case to reduce damage from drops
  • Avoid extreme temperatures
  • Don't cover your phone while it's charging
  • Practice good battery hygiene (keep your phone charged between 30% and 80% most of the time)
  • Use the right charger
  • Take care of your cables
  • Lookout for malware

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