Laptop Catches Fire, Injures Forest Woman

What Was Left of Campbell's Laptop

Reporter: Rachel Schaerr | Videographer: Melinda Zosh

Forest, VA - A Forest woman got quite a surprise when she turned on her laptop and it burst into flames.

Nationwide, at least eight people have been burned, one person treated for smoke inhalation and 36 computers damaged since the latest recall. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the batteries in some HP and Compaq computers can actually catch fire.

"It actually made a popping noise," said Lauren Campbell.

She remembers the evening of January 5 well.

"I turned around and before I knew it, it was in flames," she says of her HP Pavilion laptop.

She threw the computer on her driveway. A few minutes later, she realized her foot had second-degree burns.

"I'm not sure what landed on my foot. I could have been burned by battery acid," she says.

More than 160,000 lithium-ion batteries used in HP and Compaq notebook computers have been recalled since 2009 because they can overheat, rupture and catch fire.

Campbell is just glad her 4-year-old daughter didn't have to learn the hard way.

"The scary thing is she spent a lot of time on that computer," says Campbell. "So those are the things that go through your mind -- the what ifs."

The Bedford County Fire Marshal wonders if a recalled battery also sparked a house fire that killed a Moneta man in November.

"I remembered there was a laptop also in that immediate area, plugged into an extension chord, right next to the bed," said John Jennings after calling a news conference to make the public aware of the recall.

The Toshiba computer inside the home was too badly burned to find a serial or model number, so he may never know for sure what started the blaze.

"I certainly have to allow for the possibility that it was a failure involving the laptop that caused the fire that resulted in the fatality," Jennings said.

He's urging all laptop owners to unplug their computers when not in use, keep them away from beds and carpets, and register their serial numbers on the manufacturer's web site.

Campbell wishes she had.

"Type it in and see what comes up. You might be surprised," she said.

News Release From The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Notebook Model Number Battery Bar Codes (^ in the code
can be any letter or number) HP Paviliondv2000, dv2500, dv2700, dv6000, dv6500,
dv6700,dx6000, dx6500, dx670062940^^AXV^^^^, 65035^^B7U^^^^, 65035^^B7V^^^^, 65035^^BGU^^^^, 65035^^BGV^^^^ dv9000, dv9500, dv970065033^^B7U^^^^, 65033^^B7V^^^^, 65033^^BGU^^^^, 65033^^BGV^^^^ Compaq PresarioA900
F500, F700
V3000, V3500, V3700, V6000, V6500, V670062940^^AXV^^^^, 65035^^B7U^^^^, 65035^^B7V^^^^, 65035^^BGU^^^^, 65035^^BGV^^^^HPG6000, G700062940^^AXV^^^^, 65035^^B7U^^^^, 65035^^B7V^^^^, 65035^^BGU^^^^, 65035^^BGV^^^^HP Compaq6510b, 6515b, 6710b, 6710s, 6715b, 6715s65000^^B5V^^^^6520s67150^^AXU^^^^, 67150^^AXV^^^^6720s67059^^V8U^^^^, 67059^^V8V^^^^
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