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iPod Nano trouser fireballs sweep Japan

They knew the risks

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The long dry* summer wears on, rendering habitats parched and flammable as tinder. Pockets containing iPods are one such habitat and the annual outbreak of gadgetry-related conflagrations is under way.

A particularly severe pocket wildfire epidemic is raging at this moment in Japan, where Reuters reports that roaring infernos have erupted following terrifying iPod-centred meltdowns on at least three recent occasions.

Nobody was injured during the three fires, leading to speculation that these occasions may have seen the partly-nibbled-fruit branded musical gizmos docked, lying artfully strewn on coffee tables or perhaps pocketed in robust, flame-resistant Nipponese garments of some sort. However, it appeared that on at least two other occasions iPod users had suffered "minor burns", presumably to the trouser region - though this was not confirmed.

The latter incidents bring to mind the horrific, eye-watering incident last year in which an inferno gutted the underpants of an airport worker in Atlanta, with the flames "reaching his chest", according to his distraught mother. On that occasion, with smoke belching from his trousers in an airport, iPod owner Danny Williams was considered fortunate not to be mistaken for a suicide bomber and riddled with bullets by jumpy plods.

Returning to this week's gadget fireball outbreak, it appears that a "semi-governmental" Japanese agency specialising in incidents of this type will look into the matter in cooperation with Apple. It seems that certain iPod Nanos sold in Japan from September 2005 to September 2006 have been fingered ahead of the probe.

Japanese trade ministry officials called for some kind of Apple product warning to be offered, in advance of their own investigation.

"It would be appropriate for Apple to take some measures to raise the public's awareness," an unnamed spokesman told Reuters.

We're obviously doing our best, but some kind of helpful mailshot from Apple would be great. ("To get the fullest enjoyment from your iPod, never let it come into contact with combustible materials including furniture, cars or buildings ... should your iPod emit smoke or flames at any time, place it calmly on the ground, flee the area with your family and Apple customer service representatives will attempt to detonate the unit safely with bazookas" etc.)

But to be honest we'd guess the problems will die down once summer is over. ®

* Your dryness may vary. For UK readers, this would be dry in the sense that dry white wine is dry.

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