STAFF IN THE London office of a marketing company were left shocked and reeling yesterday after an Apple PowerBook burst into flames.
The company asked not to be identified, as IT manager Steven told how he was called to the scene by reports of smoke billowing out of an employee's computer.
"When I got there, much of the smoke has dissipated and nothing much was happening. I picked up the notebook to investigate, and turned it over. Soon after I put it down again, it basically exploded. Flames were flying six feet in the air, and sparks," he told the INQ.
"I saw that the smoke was coming out of the battery and I was worried about the chemicals in the battery so I told everyone to get out of the office"
"I was stood there wondering what to do with the laptop when suddenly a fire started and flames started coming out of the battery."
"I went to get a fire extinguisher and was just getting ready to put out the fire when all of a sudden it went BANG!
"Suddenly flames flew up about six feet in the air and there were sparks flying everywhere.
"There was a popping sound and more smoke," a shaken Steven told the INQ. "At that point I just hit the fire alarm and scarpered.
"I was about two feet away from it when flames went up to the ceiling."
A company fire marshall relieved Steve of his firefighting duties and emptied around half the extinguisher on the burning wreck.
"When he stopped using it, it just fired up again," said Steve. "He used the rest if the extinguisher on it but the laptop was still hot and glowing and the battery was all molten inside and glowing red.
"At that point we decided to wait for the fire brigade to turn up."
Steve said the PowerBook was three-to-four years old. "We are aware that there was a battery recall several years ago, it is entirely possible that the battery was one of those subject to that recall, but we can't tell now as the battery is now just slag."
The company is checking all its MacBooks to see if any were bought at the same time as the incendiary device and assessing all the batteries they contain. The flaming PowerBook was taken away for investigation.
"We were thinking, what if this had happened somehere else, like in a car or plane," said Steve later reflecting on the day's events.
"I think I'll stick to the IT job and let the professionals deal with the fires." µ