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US man badly burned by self-combusting cell phone

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A US man has been badly burned in a fire resulting from a spontaneously-combusting mobile phone, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Fifty-nine-year-old Luis Picaso, of Vallejo, California, who had been sleeping in his house on a white plastic lawn chair last Saturday night, was rudely awoken by a fire which melted the plastic chair, ignited his "polyester-blend slacks" and nylon soccer jersey and caused "second and third-degree burns across at least half his body".

When the emergency services arrived shortly before midnight, they found Picaso lying on the bathroom floor. His condition was described yesterday as "stable".

Vallejo Fire Department investigator and spokesman Bill Tweedy explained how Picaso's synthetic clothes had contributed to his injuries: "Cotton holds up the best. The only thing he had on that was cotton was his underwear. Everywhere the nylon was, that's where he got burns."

Tweedy confirmed that "from the burn patterns on Picaso's clothes and body, it was clear the fire began in the right front pocket of his polyester-blend slacks". He elaborated: "There were no matches. There were no lighters. He wasn't smoking. The only source was the phone that was in his pocket. I know he didn't spontaneously combust."

Tweedy did not specify the mobile phone in question. He offered: "I don't believe it's a problem with any particular cell phone maker. It's a piece of electrical equipment. All electrical equipment can have a malfunction. This is a freak accident...It could be any brand of phone that could do that." ®

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