Family says teen's cellphone caught fire: 'I didn't think it was real'

Family says teen's cellphone caught fire: 'I didn't think it was real' »Play Video
Alexis Lopez (left) said her phone fell on the bathroom rug and caught fire.

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- A Beaverton teen said she accidentally dropped her phone and it caught fire.

Alexis Lopez, 13, said she was standing in the bathroom on Saturday and reached for her Samsung Galaxy S4 in her pocket, but the phone fell on the bathroom rug.

"As I went to go pick it up, smoke and flames started pouring out of it and it was just on fire," said Lopez.

Lopez said she screamed for her mother, who came in, grabbed the bathroom rug and dragged the burning rug and phone outside.

"I couldn't believe it. I didn't think it was real," said Alexis' father, Javier Lopez.

Javier Lopez said he contacted Samsung and their carrier, T-Mobile. He said the companies wanted him to send them the phone, and sent the family a replacement phone immediately.

Javier Lopez said Samsung needs to look closely at their phone issues, and not just with this one incident. He has heard of other cases and believes there is a problem with Samsung phones overheating.

"A full-scale investigation is warranted now," said Javier Lopez. "Doesn't seem right to me."   

A Samsung spokesperson said that there is no problem with the company's phones. Philip Berne said the small number of problems that have arisen have occurred when people have used third-party batteries with Samsung phones.

Javier Lopez said the family was using a third-party batteries from Hyperion instead of Samsung batteries because he does not believe Samsung batteries last long enough.

He said he believes the problem is with the phones, not the third-party batteries.

Berne sent a statement by email:

"Samsung takes product quality and customer safety very seriously and we respond to and investigate all consumer inquiries. Given the number of mobile phones that we sell, overheating is not a common occurrence for Samsung products. We strongly advise all customers follow the guidelines of CTIA and our own product user manuals for care and handling of wireless devices. Consumers experiencing an issue with a Samsung product should contact our support team immediately at 1-800-SAMSUNG and we will work to resolve issues to our customers' satisfaction," the statement said.

The Problem Solvers contacted Underwriters Laboratories, a company that tests the lithium-ion batteries in cellphones.

UL Community Safety Director John Drengenberg said lithium-ion batteries are safe, and problems with fire are extremely rare. He said you can take steps to avoid damaging the battery and causing overheating problems:

---Take extra care not to drop your phone

---Do not expose your phone to heat, like a hot car, a counter near a stove, and sun at the beach.

---Do not use third-party batteries and chargers unless you check with the manufacturer to make sure they are compatible.

---Do not leave the phone on a soft surface, like your bed, which could block ventilation.

---If if your phone seems hotter than usual, take it in to be checked.