Ontario university student Hope Casserly will never forget the night of Oct. 22, when she was awakened at around 1:30 a.m. by a loud popping sound.
She says she is still stunned by what happened next.
"My back was to the phone and ah — I saw a light going across my shoulder, which would be the inside of the battery on fire. It hit the wall and fell onto my bed," she said.
"I realized it was a fire and so I half sat up and put out the fire with my pillow ... looked over and realized there was another fire and put that out with my pillow again and … turned on all the lights to see what happened."
Casserly had left her Samsung Ace II x on her night table before falling asleep around 11:30 p.m. She says it was not plugged in and was screen-side up.
She believes the inside of the battery caught fire and exploded — flying off the night table, bouncing off a wall, then landing on her duvet, which started the fire.
Casserly, a fourth-year University of Guelph computer science student who shares a home with two other people, says the battery casing also went flying across the room, causing a second fire.
"At first I was thinking, did my light bulb explode?" she told Go Public. "But that didn't makes sense, because my lights obviously weren't on so it wouldn't be my light bulb. And then I realized my bed was on fire, so that scared me even more."
"Afterwards I realized like, how severe the situation could have ended up and that frightened me quite a bit."
Samsung investigates claim
Hope's father, John Casserly, who lives about a 2½-hour drive to the northeast near Peterborough, Ont., says his daughter told him what happened by telephone.
"My first reaction was, of course, are you guys OK? And she said, 'yes.' And then it was, of course, OK, but what happened?" he said.
"She told me about the fire. It was actually a relief to know it wasn't worse than it was.That there wasn't a severe fire to the building, but obviously concerned 'cause it could have been so much worse."
The day after the fire, Casserly and his daughter contacted Samsung. They say they let the company know what happened and were asked to send the damaged phone to the Samsung's Toronto office.
After not hearing back for a few weeks, they contacted the Samsung again and were told the phone had to be sent to Korea so the company could investigate what happened.
"I have no problem with them sending the cellphone to Korea," said John Casserly. "They gotta send it to to their factory or whatever and find out why these things are catching fire before they burn someone's house down."
This is the first case Go Public could find involving the Galaxy Ace II x battery. But there are many similar stories in the news from many parts of the world including the U.S., the U.K. and Jerusalem involving another Samsung model — the Galaxy S4.
Fox News in the U.S. recently broadcast a story about a 13-year-old Texas girl whose S4 caught fire after it slipped under her pillow while she slept.
In the U.K, a 25-year-old woman told the Daily Mail she narrowly escaped serious injury after she woke up to find her smartphone had caught fire while charging.
In July, the Jerusalem Post reported that Samsung customers there were being encouraged to take their S4 batteries to stores for a replacement.
Samsung has always maintained the phones are safe.
Not an authorized battery, says company
CBC News requested an interview with Samsung, but the company provided a written statement instead.
"Samsung takes product quality and customer safety very seriously. After a preliminary analysis, Samsung has determined that the battery used in Miss Casserly’s Samsung Ace II X was not a Samsung authorized battery," the company told CBC.
"We have provided the customer with a replacement device and will be following up with the customer to resolve the matter.
"We encourage customers to only use genuine Samsung parts and accessories with all of our products and to carefully follow the safety instructions, which are found in the product’s user manual and online at Samsung.com."
Casserly maintains the battery is the original one that came with the phone when she bought it from a Virgin Mobile kiosk.
Samsung does post a warning in its user guide that specifically states:
"Covering the device with bedding, your body, thick clothing or any other materials that significantly affect air flow may affect the performance of the device and poses a possible risk of fire or explosion, which could lead to serious bodily injuries or damage to property."
Hope Casserly says her phone was not covered by any material. It wasn't even plugged in.
She wants Samsung to pay for her damaged mattress and bedding. She estimates the fire cost her just over $1,000.
After a lot of back and forth with the company, Samsung told Casserly it would pay for the items damaged in the fire. But she says she has yet to see a dime. Both she and her dad aren't happy with the delay.
"I'd like them to review the compensation and at least reimburse me for my mattress, my sheets, and my pillows … because I'm a student. I have enough problems trying to afford things," she said.
Samsung did send Hope Casserly a replacement phone. It's brand new, still has the screen protector on and all the original wrapping. But it's still in its original box.
Casserly says she's just too scared to use it — worried the same thing could happen again.
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