Moment laptop explodes while charging at Letchworth business

PUBLISHED: 13:13 23 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:13 23 March 2018

Letchworth-based Allplas caught fire when a laptop was left on charge over night. Picture: Steve Paffett

Letchworth-based Allplas caught fire when a laptop was left on charge over night. Picture: Steve Paffett

Archant

A Letchworth business owner has issued a warning about the “potential bombs” we have in our homes after his office was destroyed by a fire which he believes was caused by a faulty laptop battery.

Steve Paffett – owner of Allplas – says his business could be out of action for six months after his HP laptop caught fire while left on charge, with the blaze destroying his office based off Works Road.

The managing director of the tarpaulins and netting specialists was at home asleep when his work intruder alarm woke him.

“I jumped on the CCTV app on my phone,” said Steve.

“The exterior of the building seemed secure, but I thought I would check inside.

Police, fire and ambulance attended the scene of the blaze. Picture: Steve Paffett Police, fire and ambulance attended the scene of the blaze. Picture: Steve Paffett

“To my horror I was watching a bonfire on my office desk. I thought ‘what am I going to do?’ It was awful.

“I got up, trying not to panic, got dressed, grabbed my wallet, keys and phone and left for work.

“On the way I dialed 999 and they were brilliant. I got straight through to the police who arrived not long after I did, and two fire engines, another three or four police cars, a paramedic and an ambulance were all on the scene in no time.”

In the short time before the police arrived, Steve attempted to put out the blaze by setting off two fire extinguishers, however it was already well established by that point.

Steve urges people to remember to take electronics off charge. Picture: Steve Paffett Steve urges people to remember to take electronics off charge. Picture: Steve Paffett

Of the damage, he said: “The ground floor is ruined, all the stock is written off – luckily none of it caught fire, but it’s just covered in smoke – the whole building is filthy and reeks.

“The fire and ambulance crews were amazing and could not have done more under the circumstances.

“I’ve already been given a small insurance payment – just enough to continue to trade – but it’s not quite the same thing as being able to get on with your day.”

Now Steve wants to warn the public about the dangers of LiPo batteries if left on charge for a substantial amount of time.

“Just never ever leave a laptop or phone on charge overnight, as this is the result,” Steve said.

“If it’s on and you leave it plugged in then that’s fine, but when you switch it off remember to take it off charge – it only takes a little distraction to forget.

“I don’t think anywhere near enough of us are aware of the potential ‘bombs’ we have indoors. I was sat at that seat earlier that day and I swear it would have taken my face off or killed me.”

To limit the risk of fires caused by laptop battery chargers, Herts Fire & Rescue Service recommends the use of CE Kite marked chargers manufactured by the reputable dealer for the device.

Cheaper alternatives which may not have gone through the same safety checks should be avoided. The fire service also recommends that batteries should not be charged for excessive periods of time or left to charge when unattended.

Steve bought his HP Envy laptop in 2014, and had never had an issue with the charger. He only decided to leave it on charge when he unplugged it and it turned off immediately.

The Comet contacted HP for comment but has not received a response.

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