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Laptop explodes setting elderly woman's clothes and carpet on fire

Woman burned as her Dell laptop went up in flames. Her clothes caught on fire, as did her carpet.
Woman burned as her Dell laptop went up in flames. Her clothes caught on fire, as did her carpet.

A lazy Sunday afternoon of reading emails and playing a computer game erupted when an elderly woman’s laptop exploded and burst into flames. 72-year-old Loretta Luff said she heard a snap and suddenly the computer blew up and caught her clothes and carpet on fire, according to on July 1.

The Dell Inspiron laptop blew backward and the battery and battery acid blew toward Luff who said she had to rip off her shirt that was on fire. She stepped on the battery, which was smouldering on the floor and she burned her foot. The battery acid was burning holes in her carpet, which was also in flames, according to CBS Local News.

She grabbed the dog’s water bowl, which was nearby, and doused the carpet. Her face, neck, chest and arms were burned in this painful explosion. As the laptop sat there smoldering Luff called her neighbor for help and they called the fire department who arrived quickly at the Langhorne, Pa. Home.

Luff suffered first and second degree burns in this explosion with burns on her face, neck, arms, chest and foot. While at St. Mary’s Medical Center doctors pulled “stuff” out of her nostrils, said Luff.

Luff described the incident:

“It blew up. It flipped my computer back and the battery pack and all came out this way,” Loretta Luff recalled, “The next thing I knew, my shirt was on fire, I grabbed that and took that off and I think that’s when I singed my hair.”

This was just going to be a break on the computer for Luff, who was in the middle of her wash day, which she does on Sunday. It turned out to be a nightmare. Dell is investigating this incident and the company has already reached out to Luff.

The Langhorne-Middleton Fire Company is also investigating trying to find the cause of this six-year-old computer explosion. Frank Farry, the fire chief said that the neighborhood did suffer a power outage that afternoon and Luff had her computer plugged into an extension cord.

It is too early in the investigation to determine what caused this explosion, said Farry. While rare, computers can explode when they get overheated. Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesperson, Scott Wolfson said that in 2006 an Apple laptop blew up in flames as a Solon, Iowa family stood by and watched.

Over the years laptops from several companies have erupted in fires due to the overheating of battery packs, Including Dell. Luft is in some pain today from Sunday’s computer mishap. She said that it hurts to walk on her foot that was burned, but she is thankful that her husband and her dogs weren’t hurt in this computer incident.

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