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Dell laptop detonates in UK home

Went up 'like fireworks', family claims

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A Leicestershire family was this left in shock after their Dell laptop exploded "like fireworks" and set light to their living room furniture, it was reported this week - just before news broke of Sony's decision to appoint a battery safety officer.

According to a story in the Leicester Mercury, the Allen family of Eskdale Road, Hinckley witnessed the spontaneous combustion of their laptop on 25 July.

The notebook, a Dell Latitude C600, was left alone in the family home to load a game. When the Allens came in to see how it was doing, the machine blew up.

"There are six batteries inside a compartment, and they were shooting out like fireworks, like rockets," Shaun Allen, 39, told the paper. "They even bounced off the ceiling, they went up that high."

The exploding batteries set fire to the sofa and the carpet, the paper reports.

Curiously, the computer had not been bought from Dell but from an unnamed shop in Coventry a year ago. Mr Allen said he paid £500 for the machine. Dell told the paper it believes the battery that burned was not one supplied by the company, but a third-party product. However, it said it would give the Allen's a new machine as a gesture of goodwill.

Last month, Dell formally requested 4.1m customers around the world return batteries shipped with its notebooks sold between 1 April 2004 and 18 July 2006. The recalled lithium-ion batteries were made by Sony, Dell said. A week later, Apple also insituted a recall of batteries manufactured by Sony.

Separately, the Japanese giant today said it was appoint the head of its TV division, Makoto Kogure, to take charge of the company's product quality and safety assurance efforts, a role that will oversee firm's battery manufacturing. However, the company was keen to stress the move was not solely the result of the Dell and Apple recalls. ®

Thanks to Reg Hardware reader Paul Kennedy for the tip

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