He Made a Simple Mistake With Laptop—Fiery Explosion Burned Down His Office

Petr Svab
By Petr Svab
March 28, 2018World News
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He Made a Simple Mistake With Laptop—Fiery Explosion Burned Down His Office
(Screenshot via Jukin Media via AP)

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Steve Paffett only did one tiny mistake. One that many, if not most, would have done in his place. Now his office is burned down and his business halted for maybe half a year.

Paffett runs a business selling tarpaulins and nettings in Letchworth Garden City some 22 miles north of London, England.

Before leaving his office, he unplugged his laptop and it turned off immediately. He decided to leave it charging overnight, The Comet reported on March 23.

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Steve Paffett company’s location in Letchworth Garden City, England. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

Paffett was already asleep at home when an intruder alarm set up for his workplace woke him up.

“I jumped on the CCTV app on my phone,” he said.

He checked the camera showing the area outside the building, but it looked secure. Then it occurred to him to check the insides too.

“To my horror I was watching a bonfire on my office desk. I thought ‘what am I going to do?’ It was awful,” he said.

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(Screenshot via Jukin Media via AP)

“I got up, trying not to panic, got dressed, grabbed my wallet, keys, and phone and left for work.”

On the way, Paffett called the UK emergency line (999). Shortly after he arrived at the office, multiple police cars, fire engines, and an ambulance showed up. Meanwhile, Paffett already set off two fire extinguishers, but by then the blaze was too strong.

“The fire and ambulance crews were amazing and could not have done more under the circumstances,” he said.

Still, the damage was extensive.

“The ground floor is ruined, all the stock is written off—luckily none of it caught fire, but it’s just covered in smoke—the whole building is filthy and reeks,” he said.

The security camera footage shows the laptop simply lying on the table.

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(Screenshot via Jukin Media via AP)

Then it suddenly explodes with jagged tongues of bright flame flashing from underneath it. The blast blinds the camera for more than a second and sets a notebook behind the laptop on fire.

About two seconds later, the laptop, or likely its battery, explodes again with a geyser of sparks and incandescent bits shower the room, leaving smoking pieces of burning debris here and there.

The fire spreads across the table and up the wall as the room fills with smoke. The video cuts off.

Paffett said the laptop was HP Envy bought in 2014 and that he’d never had a problem with its charger.

HP has recalled batteries of many of its laptops, including some shipped with HP ENVY dv6 models sold between March 2013 and October 2016.

“These batteries have the potential to overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to customers,” the company stated on its website.

HP didn’t respond to a request for a comment, The Comet stated.

Paffett has already received a small insurance payment, he said, “just enough to continue to trade—but it’s not quite the same thing as being able to get on with your day.”

His experience, however, inculcated him with a concern about battery fire hazards.

“I don’t think anywhere near enough of us are aware of the potential ‘bombs’ we have indoors,” he said. “I was sat at that seat earlier that day and I swear it would have taken my face off or killed me.”

 

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