Upon announcing the huge recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, Samsung reported that there are currently no known injuries due to the exploding battery risk that led to sales being halted worldwide. But it’s starting to sound like there’ve been some very close calls. In just the last couple days, news reports have covered two separate incidents — both massive blazes that led to significant destruction. In each instance, it hasn’t yet been determined whether the Note 7 was indeed to blame for the damage. Samsung is looking into both cases, so let’s go over them.
Jeep “totaled” by exploding Note 7
Shortly after returning from a Labor Day yard sale on Monday in St. Petersburg, Florida, a man looked out the window to see his family’s Jeep Grand Cherokee in flames. Nathan Dornacher would later say that he’d left his four-day-old Galaxy Note 7 charging in the vehicle’s center console moments before the fire began. “I converted from Apple phones back when some of the first Notes were out, and I’ve had every new Note since then,” Dornacher told FOX 13. “I don’t think I’m going to let another Samsung product into my house.”
The Jeep owner claims he was unaware of Samsung’s recall, which the company has so far handled on its own alongside carrier and retail partners without going through the US Consumer Safety Product Commission. That lack of an “official” recall may hurt Samsung in matters like these. A company spokesperson said Samsung is “working with Mr. Dornacher to investigate his case and ensure we do everything we can for him.”
Garage fire originated near outlet where Note 7 was charging
In a separate incident, a man says he believes the Note 7 is to blame for a garage fire that resulted in his house being condemned. Wesley Hartzog of Horry County, South Carolina left his Samsung phablet plugged into a wall outlet where fire investigators believe the Sunday blaze began. “They asked me if I had anything plugged in in the garage,” he told local NBC affiliate WMBF. “My cell phone, which was the new Note 7, was plugged in in the garage. I also had an air compressor plugged into the same outlet but the compressor wasn’t on.”
Hartzog and his children are currently staying in hotels as the investigation proceeds. He, like Dornacher, claims to have been completely unaware of Samsung’s recall announcement, which was issued last Friday and echoed by mobile carriers and retail chains like Best Buy.
These panicked “more at 11!” news reports combined with images of a charred smartphone aren’t a great look for Samsung. But again, officials are still looking into both cases — and there’s a chance they’ll determine that the Note 7 wasn’t at fault. Samsung says the Note 7’s battery can experience an overheating that stems from “a very rare manufacturing process error.” Earlier today, we published a report looking at why and how smartphone batteries can unexpectedly blow up. As of September 1st, 35 cases related to the faulty battery had been reported to the company.
If nothing else, these stories serve to remind that recalls are pretty serious. If you’re still hanging onto a Note 7, return it and wait for Samsung’s replacement devices to arrive over the next couple weeks. There’s no easy way of telling if your battery is at risk, and it’s just not worth chancing personal injury or loss of property..