Samsung Galaxy S4 catches fire in bed of Texas teen

By , on July 30, 2014


The charred remains of Ariel Tolfree's Samsung Galaxy S4.  (Screengrab from http://www.myfoxtampabay.com)
The charred remains of Ariel Tolfree’s Samsung Galaxy S4. (Screengrab from http://www.myfoxtampabay.com)

DALLAS – A teener from North Texas awoke to the smell of smoke, only to find her Samsung Galaxy S4 in flames by her pillow.

Speaking to reporters from local news station FOX 4,which carried  the story on July 25, 2014, Ariel Tolfree, 13-years old, said that her phone slipped under her pillow as she fell asleep. Later on that night, she was roused by the smell of something burning. She initially disregarded it, only to be awoken again as the smell grew stronger.

“I didn’t think much of it, so I went back to sleep, and then I woke up again and it was more prominent,” said Tolfree.

The teen added that she loves using her Samsung Galaxy S4 because “It’s really like, nice and pretty. It’s high tech.”

Her father – who suspects the phone overheated, causing the battery to swell and start a fire – however, expressed dissatisfaction over the product’s safety.

“We have a reasonable expectation that the products we buy are going to be safe,” said Thomas.

The Tolfrees got in touch with Samsung, and spoke to a representative of the company.

The spokesperson said that Samsung products are safe; and pointed out that the battery inside the teen’s phone was a replacement part and not an original Samsung battery unit.

However, the company conceded that there is a need for consumer education, with regard to rechargeable batteries. The spokesperson also noted that this is exactly the reason that Samsung posts a warning in their user guide, which specifically says that covering one of their devices with bedding or other material could restrict airflow and cause a fire.

Tolfree and her dad admitted that they didn’t read that warning.

“If anything, they should put a big warning on it, like a cigarette label, if that’s the case,” Thomas said.

For her part, Tolfree said she has come to realize that people should not sleep with their phones on their bed, but instead, set them down on a nightstand.

The Samsung spokesperson emphasized that they treat any incidence of a battery fire very seriously, and requested that the burned phone be sent to them for a full investigation into the matter.

Samsung also replaced the beddings and other items that were burned.