iPhone fire leaves Alberta teen with 3rd-degree burns

A 16-year-old in Rimbey, Alta., woke up to smoke and flames after his iPhone lit his mattress on fire.

Josh Schultz' mattress and blankets went up in flames as he was charging his cellphone

Rimbey firefighters responded to an iPhone fire in a teenager's bedroom the morning of May 11. (George Frey/Reuters)

A 16-year-old from Rimbey, Alta., is recovering from third-degree burns after his iPhone set his bed on fire.

Josh Schultz woke up screaming shortly after midnight on May 11.

"I thought someone was having a nightmare," his father Rob Schultz said.

Schultz leapt out of bed and bolted to his basement, which was already filled with smoke.

"And I turned the corner and his blankets and his bed were on fire, really bad," he said.

A lamp had also caught fire and the flames had begun scorching the walls. Rob Schultz says he acted quickly, first using water to douse the blazing mattress and then a fire extinguisher.

He says his son suffered third-degree burns on his right calf and had "melted blankets stuck to him."

Volunteer members of the Rimbey Fire and Rescue Brigade responded to the 911 call.

Rob Schultz says they found his son's iPhone melted on his bedside table, which was butted up next to his bed.

Charging heat led to flames

​Rimbey fire chief John Weisgerber suspects the teen tossed his sheets over the phone in his sleep.

"All electronic devices are generating heat when they are charging, and if you cover them up and they can't get rid of that heat, the heat is going to build to the point where something catches fire."

Weisgerber says he's never responded to a smartphone fire, but he has heard of this happening with laptops.

Weisgerber says this incident concerns him as a fire chief and a parent. He worries teens are becoming addicted to having their smartphones close to them at all times.

"Because it's just kind of convenient to have it next to us. People don't have the respect for electrical things that they should maybe," he said.

Weisgerber says it's important for teens, and adults, to keep smartphones a distance from their beds.


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