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This iPhone 4 caught on fire while charging overnight, and a Nest camera caught the flames

A decade old iPhone recently caught on fire while charging in a family’s kitchen, and the combustion was caught on video. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire burned out, but the footage is alarming as it occurred overnight while the family was sleeping.

The fire occurred with an iPhone 4, a model that was introduced 12 years ago, so no one should worry about modern iPhones catching fire. However, the incident highlights the importance of knowing what can cause a battery to combust.

Brian and Jennifer Leisgang of Ohio shared details of what happened in a Facebook post. The family says a Google Home product in the kitchen that was set to always record caught the video.

In the post, the family describes how dangerous the situation could have been:

We were extremely lucky to avoid a house fire. Our kids were charging our old iPhone 4 with the apple charger last night and it exploded and caught on fire in our kitchen while we were sleeping.

Luckily we had just cleaned off the counter yesterday as it [usually] has lots of school books and papers in that area. There we’re small pieces of the phone and black soot all over the counter this morning.

Lithium-ion batteries are common in electronics and battery fires are rare, but there are conditions that cause rechargeable batteries to overheat and combust. Common causes include exposure to fire, damage from being punctured, and manufacturer defects.

As for this specific iPhone, one of a few things likely happened. Cheap chargers are often at fault for batteries catching fire, although the charging cable appears to be in good condition here.

The age of the iPhone is also a factor. Older iPhones don’t increase the risk of fire, but battery care is critical. A 12-year-old iPhone still in use will either have a replacement battery or live on a charger to stay powered.

Keeping an aging battery connected to a charger can cause the battery to overcharge and overheat. Battery replacement, while necessary, should also be handled with care. Relying on an Apple Authorized Service Provider will ensure the correct procedure is followed and genuine parts are used.

Lithium-ion batteries can also expand with age. A chemical reaction inside the battery provides power, but the chemical reaction can fail over time and create a gas. This causes the battery to swell up which greatly increases the risk of catching fire. Bulging batteries should always be handled with care and replaced.

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