Thinkpad catches fire at LAX

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claudeo
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Thinkpad catches fire at LAX

#1 Post by claudeo » Sat Sep 16, 2006 2:59 pm

Just reported. The story seems genuine but independent verification has not been published yet.

http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/16/thin ... omb-scare/

http://www.newsfactor.com/blog_article. ... Technology

There is of course no way to tell whether this was a genuine IBM/Lenovo battery or an aftermarket battery. For all we know it may have been an "eBay special."

All the same, worrisome. To be followed.

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#2 Post by RRHODY » Sat Sep 16, 2006 3:39 pm

Can anybody ID the laptop in the pix? I'm not up on the current models but the one in the picture looks like no IBM I've seen.

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#3 Post by Legionnaire » Sat Sep 16, 2006 3:53 pm

There's a little detail here: the Thinkpad did NOT catch fire, its battery DID. Heavy titles like that sell newspapers / attract web clicks but the truth is the battery is the part that failed. Whether it was some noname ventor or a Sony (like the ones on the Dell and Apple laptop that caught on fire) that doesn't mean anything about IBM/Lenovo.

And the thing with exploding batteries is becoming an issue after both Dell and Apple withdrew quite a few product series.

Finally, the laptop looks like an R-series (looks a lot like my R50e but the TV-OUT).

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#4 Post by sunkssss » Sat Sep 16, 2006 3:55 pm

it looks like a t4x given the placement of the usb ports and the bottom screw locations....but then i don't know what a the r series looks like too well.

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#5 Post by pianowizard » Sat Sep 16, 2006 3:59 pm

Is laptop battery catching fire a recent phenomenon or did it happen before? If it's recent, can it be because as laptops become increasingly powerful, they are more prone to overheating the battery?
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#6 Post by jdhurst » Sat Sep 16, 2006 4:11 pm

I wonder (especially based on commentary in this forum) if people are routinely standing-by incorrectly, leaving their TP running (unbeknownst to them), and heating up. The battery would heat up in such circumstances.

I usually turn my TP off, and I know (because I have checked) that the battery is stone cold when the TP is off.

I sometimes stand-by, but (check another recent post of mine), I ensure that I have disconnected from my current network, closed open applications (especially ones which are constantly checking through the internet), making sure disk activity is at a lull, and only then closing the lid. Then I wait for the suspend signal and lamp before putting the TP in my briefcase. When I remove the TP after transport, the machine and battery are cold (I have checked).

So I am much suspect of a properly-treated machine catching fire. Put another way, I think those that do catch fire are improperly used. Still, the battery manufacturers (all of them) ought take their fingers out of their apparently clueless behinds, and think about fixing the problem.
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#7 Post by Kyocera » Sat Sep 16, 2006 4:14 pm

I could have been a remanufactured, rebuilt or other than standard ibm issue battery.

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#8 Post by smek » Sat Sep 16, 2006 7:59 pm

Now that annoying battery error message from the message center really gets me thinking if there is actual damage done and the battery is under a risk of catching on fire. How probable is a reacall from IBM/Lenovo now?

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#9 Post by tfflivemb2 » Sat Sep 16, 2006 8:03 pm

smek wrote:Now that annoying battery error message from the message center really gets me thinking if there is actual damage done and the battery is under a risk of catching on fire. How probable is a reacall from IBM/Lenovo now?
One Thinkpad fire out of the thousands and thousands that have been sold over the years....not a likely recall.

I agree that it was most likely a remanufactured or aftermarket battery. There could have also been prior damage to the Thinkpad to cause a problem as well.

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#10 Post by K. Eng » Sat Sep 16, 2006 11:29 pm

I think it is a T4x, but I'm not entirely sure. The R5x is very similar in look to the T4x and has nearly identical port placement. The way to distinguish the two models is to look at the thickness of the machine and the LCD lid in particular. The R5x has a much thicker LCD lid to compensate for the use of weaker ABS plastics in its construction.
sunkssss wrote:it looks like a t4x given the placement of the usb ports and the bottom screw locations....but then i don't know what a the r series looks like too well.
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#11 Post by K. Eng » Sat Sep 16, 2006 11:30 pm

I am wondering if the battery cells are of Sony manufacture.
Kyocera wrote:I could have been a remanufactured, rebuilt or other than standard ibm issue battery.
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#12 Post by Torque » Sun Sep 17, 2006 2:04 am

Propably a Sony battery.. Which one of mine also is.
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#13 Post by claudeo » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:10 pm

The owner of the ThinkPad in question (or someone asserting he was the owner of the ThinkPad) added his own post to the thread at engadget.com. It is a T43.

http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/16/thin ... mb-scare/1

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#14 Post by Mobile_Mike » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:23 pm

Thats does not appear to be a T43. Label placements are wrong (MAC Address label). Also, the DIMM access cover screw "tab" is is the wrong place. To be honest, I can not figure out which TP this might be. Checked a T40, T42 and T43 and looked at the DIMMs doors, label placements. None matched the picture. IIRC the T2x series had a DIMM access panel like in the picture. Can anyone else compare?

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#15 Post by tfflivemb2 » Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:31 pm

It definately isn't a T2x, because that pic shows the USB ports on the side of the machine. T2xs have USB ports on the back.

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#16 Post by NimnuL » Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:31 pm

Image T43 - Pentium M 2GHz + 2GB + 80GB + X300 + 15'' SXGA+

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#17 Post by Kyocera » Sun Sep 17, 2006 4:52 pm

it kind of looks like the profile of my 15" t42.

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#18 Post by tfflivemb2 » Sun Sep 17, 2006 5:41 pm

NimnuL wrote:For sure it isn't T43:
http://users.twojepc.pl/~nimnul/ibm_t43/011.jpg
It looks like the T43 to me. If you were to take the same picture that you linked to and rotate it 90 degrees clockwise, and you will see that the sticker layout and everything else appears to be the same, except for some minor bumps on the burned Thinkpad's uppserside (using that pics current angle).

EDIT: Look at the underside of this T43, and imagine it rotated almost 90 degrees clockwise.

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#19 Post by DIGITALgimpus » Sun Sep 17, 2006 6:08 pm

Don't forget there are slight differences between a 14" and 15" T43.
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#20 Post by pianowizard » Sun Sep 17, 2006 6:32 pm

I just dug out my rarely used 14.1" T43 and compared it carefully with that burned Thinkpad. They look identical, except that mine has not yet exploded.
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#21 Post by Tigsman » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:03 pm

Geez louise. it didnt explode. it didnt do so arbitrarily like the Dell and Apple that just caught on fire. It was dropped. Take any chemical based component like a battery, drop it, and see what happens. Geez

taken from the newsfactor link in the first post.
when suddenly this guy comes running the wrong way up the jetway, pushing other boarding passengers out of the way, he quickly drops his laptop on the floor and the thing immediately flares up like a giant firework for about 15 seconds, then catches fire.

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#22 Post by smek » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:11 pm

Droping a laptop should not cause to go up in flames. And he obviously droped it for a reason and I doubt he had much time to think about it, if I was in the same situation Id probably do the same thing.

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#23 Post by jdhurst » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:19 pm

Tigsman wrote:Geez louise. it didnt explode. it didnt do so arbitrarily like the Dell and Apple that just caught on fire. It was dropped. Take any chemical based component like a battery, drop it, and see what happens. Geez
<snip>
You can drop batteries without them exploding. In fact, I have never heard of such a thing. To wit:
1. Read my post in Off Topic where I hammered a battery out of a UPS with a sledge hammer. It did not explode.
2. Some years ago (more than I care to remember) I struck a battery that a customer had put in a doorway. I was running at the time, and when I kicked the battery with my safety shoe, it shattered. But it did not explode.

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#24 Post by Tigsman » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:29 pm

my point is, it was not just sitting on a table in a tech conference when it caught on fire like Dell or Apple. It was not under 'normal use' when it caught on fire, he dropped it. It broke, it caught fire. It may not be easy to reproduce, presuming it wasnt staged in the first place. Irregardless of that, it took the guy dropping it on the floor as he ran through an airport for it to go up in flames. Its not a battery issue, its a handling issue. Misuse may have horrible consequences, just like having a HDD crash, LCD crack or battery catch on fire.



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#25 Post by tfflivemb2 » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:32 pm

Tigsman wrote:my point is, it was not just sitting on a table in a tech conference when it caught on fire like Dell or Apple. It was not under 'normal use' when it caught on fire, he dropped it. It broke, it caught fire. It may not be easy to reproduce, presuming it wasnt staged in the first place. Irregardless of that, it took the guy dropping it on the floor as he ran through an airport for it to go up in flames. Its not a battery issue, its a handling issue. Misuse may have horrible consequences, just like having a HDD crash, LCD crack or battery catch on fire.
Actually, this didn't start when he dropped it. He dropped it because it was starting to catch fire. Read the post by the owner that said that it started while it was off inside of his bag.

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#26 Post by pianowizard » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:36 pm

tfflivemb2 wrote:Actually, this didn't start when he dropped it. He dropped it because it was starting to catch fire. Read the post by the owner that said that it started while it was off inside of his bag.
My guess is that he *thought* it was off but it actually wasn't. So the T43 became dangerously hot inside the bag.
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#27 Post by tfflivemb2 » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:40 pm

pianowizard wrote:My guess is that he *thought* it was off but it actually wasn't. So the T43 became dangerously hot inside the bag.
Honestly, that would be my guess, too. I am just trying to point out that the fire wasn't the result of it being dropped.

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#28 Post by pianowizard » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:45 pm

tfflivemb2 wrote:-Honestly, that would be my guess, too. I am just trying to point out that the fire wasn't the result of it being dropped.
Yes, I understood that you were just paraphrasing that article.
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#29 Post by Tigsman » Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:47 pm

I'm still skeptical of the report.
The thing went up like a firecracker when the fire hit each of the cells
It was even turned off and in my bag when it caught fire.
So why in a picture that covers roughly 50-100 square feet of fire extinguisher dust, why is the bag not charred and doused by the fire extinguisher dust.

I have not been in an airport in 6 years, but that so looks like the 'smoking lounge' and someone moved the ashtray that was sitting next to the laptop.

Sorry, just my opinion.


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#30 Post by truthiness » Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:24 pm

Legionnaire wrote:There's a little detail here: the Thinkpad did NOT catch fire, its battery DID. Heavy titles like that sell newspapers / attract web clicks but the truth is the battery is the part that failed. Whether it was some noname ventor or a Sony (like the ones on the Dell and Apple laptop that caught on fire) that doesn't mean anything about IBM/Lenovo.

And the thing with exploding batteries is becoming an issue after both Dell and Apple withdrew quite a few product series.

Finally, the laptop looks like an R-series (looks a lot like my R50e but the TV-OUT).
the whole issue with laptop fires has always been the battery. No one is saying that Dell's or Apple's are just blowing up unpowered. The common denominator is the battery failure.

and maybe that bottom pic was just compressed too much, but my first reaction was 'photochop'.

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