February 9, 2005 4:41 PM PST

Exploding cell phone shocks 911 dispatcher

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A group of Utah 911 dispatchers faced an emergency of their own this week when a Motorola cell phone overheated and exploded.

Dispatcher Kris Munford's V300 camera phone grew "red hot" just as she and her co-workers settled in for their 6 a.m. shift on Sunday. The handset burned a hole in her jacket pocket, fell to the floor and exploded, Munford said, adding that burning parts landed as far as 10 feet away and smoke filled the room.

"I saw smoke coming out of my jacket," Munford said. "I pulled it away from my body, but by then the phone had burned through. After it started to fall, I heard what sounded like a balloon popping." One of the crew hustled the burning pieces outside, while the rest continued to work as fans cleared the air.

The cause of the Utah event remains under investigation, according to Motorola spokesman Alan Buddenbeck. No injuries were reported, although Munford said she's a little shaken up. "They asked me if I wanted the same phone to replace the Motorola," she said. "But I'm a little leery right now of Motorola, so I went with a Samsung."

Cell phone owners and manufacturers face a growing problem from overheating batteries, amid growing reports of meltdowns and explosions linked primarily to black-market replacement batteries. In response, handset makers Nokia, Kyocera Wireless, Motorola and others have begun work to standardize cell phone battery components to avert further incidents.

Chipmakers are also adding new security measures to thwart battery counterfeiters, which are to blame in many of the incidents. But such fail-safes wouldn't have worked in Utah--Munford said the battery was the original one.

Motorola's Buddenbeck stressed Wednesday that in relation to the hundreds of millions of phones sold in the United States last year, the overall number of those that malfunction represents an extremely small percentage.

"I don't want to mitigate how serious we take each of these incidents," he said, "but in general they are quite rare."


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Just call 911...
Does anyone want to know WHY a 911 dispatcher HAD or NEEDS a cellphone inside a sophisticated communications center with plenty of radios and trunk lines? I surely would like to know. If you ask me Motorola should investigate the 911 centers administration staff and also why a public safety worker (even a dispatcher) is using a NON-INSTRINSICALLY SAFE communications device not made speciafically for PUBLIC SERVICE inside a comm center. Duh!
Posted by egolpe (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Think before you talk,..
Did it ever occur to you that it was a PERSONAL cell phone? The story made it obvious to everyone else, why didn't you pick up the clues?
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
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she is using personal phone for her personal needs why in ur office are you using uyour office equiptments for your personal use
Posted by lopipops (1 comment )
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Cellphone bombs, coming to an airplane near you?
The FAA or someone needs to act fast on this one, its only a matter of time before terrorists are carrying cellphones modified to explode in this manner onboard planes.

Worse yet, why stop with cellphone batteries, you can mix it up with an iPod, a laptop, etc. Batteries are becoming more and more powerful and its only a short while before we see the advent of batteries capable of holding enough energy to power cellphones and laptops for months on end. These batteries will need to have special safegaurds in place to stop them from being turned into bombs or else this whole hubbub about being able to use a cellphone onboard an airplane will be moot because they'll have to ban cellphones, pdas and laptops because of the threat.

Or am I just paranoid?

I hope so.
Posted by (23 comments )
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Well the problem is that the explosion of the battery is usually the result of a short circuit in the battery causing the chemicals that create the energy to react at a faster rate than normal.

This results in greater generation of heat and waste gasses. The gasses are normally vented through the seams and holes in the batterys casing. However if the gasses are created faster than they can be vented, pressure builds up and the casing pops like a balloon. This is the "explosion" that is alarming people.

This sort of effect barely rates a catagorization as a low explosive.

Even with greater capacity, unless the battery is designed for a very rapid reaction resulting in large quantities of gasous byproducts, it will never reach the destructive capacities of a high grade explosive, which derives most of its destructive power from a shockwave created by the gasses released expanding faster than the speed of sound.

So as you can see unless the batteries are fundamentally redesigned with the intent of making them more powerfully explosive, there is little cause for concern. Its is highly unlikely a battery will ever be created that will exceed the force generated by modern batteries reaching the maximum pressure the plastic casing can contain structurally. Even if the reaction was several orders of magnitude more efficient in gas production and reaction speed it still would only be a plastic pipe bomb that would fail to create significant pressure before the casing failed and it detonated with negligable force.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
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exploding cell phone
I had new motorla 250 for 3 months.It exploded in my kitchen and cought my house on fire. motorla sent me a new phone. and I have to pay for the $35000 fire THANK`s MOTOROLA davidallentile@aol.com
Posted by davidclementz (1 comment )
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