11/27/2014

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Problem Solvers

Local man's cellphone catches fire in his pocket, explodes

Local man's cellphone catches fire in his pocket, explodes

WOODBURN, Ore. – A man says he was burned by his exploding cell phone, and fire investigators are focusing on the phone's lithium battery as the cause.

The phone is one of the most popular on the market – a Samsung Galaxy S4, which is the newest model.

Manolo Rodriguez said he first heard a sizzling sound and then realized the phone in the chest pocket of his jacket was burning and was about to burst.

"I tried to reach for the phone and pull it out, but it was too hot," he said. "So I retracted my hand, closed the zipper and then unzipped the center one so I could get my jacket off."

He threw it to the floor of the Goodwill store he was in. The phone burned right through the pocket of his jacket. And it was so hot it singed the floor and Rodriguez’s fingertips.

"If I had been talking on the phone or something, it could have exploded in my face," he said. "It could have been worse."

Rodriguez has hired an attorney in hopes of getting Samsung to recall the 20 million Galaxy S4s in customers' hands.

Rodriguez now has a new phone, but it's a HTC One, not a Samsung.

In general, it's a good idea not to use an off-brand battery in your phone. Rodriguez's was the original. Don't leave your phone out in the sun or heat. Rodriguez had not. And don't have really long conversations on your cellphone, either.

A Samsung representative said Thursday that the company is not commenting until it investigates what happened.

KATU News also reached out to the FCC. The agency is checking into how many similar cases have been reported.

Shellie Bailey-Shah started looking into this after KATU received a news tip about it. If you have a problem, contact the KATU Problem Solvers. You can email them at problemsolvers@katu.com or call 503-736-3415.

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