Samsung's Exploding Smartphone Suspected in House Fire

By Matt Novak on at

Last week, Samsung recalled 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. But it seems like every day we’re hearing stories about the defective devices being the potential cause of everything from burning Jeeps in Florida to flaming hotel beds in Australia. Now, authorities in the US are investigating a house fire with a possible connection to the infamously combustible device.

South Carolina resident Wesley Hartzog plugged in his Galaxy Note 7 to charge inside his garage last Sunday. He then left to pick up his two daughters, and when he got home, Hartzog, who works as a firefighter himself, found his garage in flames.

I spoke with Hartzog over Facebook Messenger, where he explained that he purchased the phone sometime around the 20th of August, right when it was released. Hartzog says he didn’t notice anything weird when he plugged it in on Sunday. Investigators haven’t determined for certain that the phone was the cause of the fire, but they definitely asked Hartzog about it.

“The origin of the fire has not been confirmed yet,” Hartzog told me over Messenger. And with all the recent stories of exploding phones, it’s certainly emerging as a likely suspect.

Hartzog didn’t know about the recall and is now living with his family in a hotel. Thankfully, no one was hurt in the blaze.

Samsung, as we’ve noted in previous stories here at Gizmodo, didn’t go through proper procedures to make their recall “official”. If they had coordinated with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there would be a coordinated effort to get the Galaxy Note 7 off store shelves and faster guidance from federal agencies about what to do.

Now, nearly a week after the recall, the FAA still hasn’t decided whether or not to ban the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from flights. The latest word is that flyers are "strongly advised" to keep the devices switched off during flights. And again, that’s a product of Samsung not going through proper channels to make their recall official. Qantas airlines in Australia has at least prohibited passengers from charging the Galaxy Note 7 on its planes, even if it hasn’t placed an outright ban on bringing them on board. So, best of luck air travellers? [WMBF News]

Samsung's Exploding Smartphone Suspected in South Carolina House Fire

Wesley Hartzog walking through his burned out garage where it’s believed his Galaxy Note 7 started a fire (WMBF News screenshot)