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Warning – Laptop Fire Death

Laptops make Fire be careful - by Mohamed Asik

Brief Analysis
Reports indicate that a 25 year old man named Arun Gopalratnam died in a June 4th 2010 house fire in the village of Menomonee Falls, in the American state of Wisconsin. The fire started in the basement bedroom of the house. However, at the time of writing, the fire is still under investigation, and the cause is yet to be determined. Thus, the claim in the message that the fire was linked to a laptop computer has not been verified by fire investigators.

Example

Subject: Be aware when u work with laptop

Very useful information

A good friend of ours in Mequon lost their 25 year old son Arun Gopal in a freak fire accident at home June 4th. This is exactly what happened. Arun had graduated with MBA from University of Wisconsin-Madison just two weeks earlier and had came home from the campus for a day. He had lunch with his dad at home and decided to go back to to clean up his room at the campus.However,his dad told him to wait and see his mother before returning to the campus as she was due back from work in a couple of hours. He decided to take a snooze while waiting for his mom while his dad went out.

Neighbors called 911 when they saw black smoke coming out of the house.The 25 year old Arun died in the three year old house. It took several days of investigation to find out the cause of the fire. It was determined that the fire was caused by lap top in the bed.

When the lap top is on the bed, the area below it is blocked and the cooling fan does not get air to cool it and that is what caused the fire.

Arun did not even wake up to make any effort to get out of bed as he died of massive carbon monoxide inhalation. The purpose of this “forward” is to make aware that most of us use our lap top in bed and often go to sleep with it next to us. Please make it a practice not to do that. The risk is very real. Make it a rule either not to use the lap top in bed.

Detailed Analysis
This widely circulated email forward warns recipients that it may be dangerous to use a laptop computer in bed because of the possibility that the device could overheat and cause a fire. As evidence of this possible danger, the message relates the case of a 25 year old Wisconsin man identified as Arun Gopal who died in a house fire on June 4th, 2010. According to the email forward, an investigation into this fire revealed that it was caused by a laptop left on the bed while Arun was sleeping. The message suggests that the cooling fan was unable to stop the computer from overheating because the vents underneath were blocked by its position on the soft bed, thus leading to the fatal fire.

Sadly, news reports indicate that a 25 year old man named Arun Gopalratnam died in a June 4th 2010 house fire in the village of Menomonee Falls, in the American state of Wisconsin. The fire started in the basement bedroom of the house. However, at the time of writing, it is still unclear if the fire was actually caused by an overheating laptop as claimed in the message. In response to my query about the fire, the Fire Chief at Menomonee Falls Fire Department explained that the “fire is still under investigation, and the cause is yet to be determined”.

Thus, the claim in the message that the fire was linked to a laptop computer has not been verified by fire investigators.

That said, it should be noted that fires have indeed been caused by laptops left on beds or couches. An August 2009 CBC news reports describes a case in which a Vancouver man died in a fire caused by an overheating laptop. The report notes:

The fire started after the computer was left on a couch, plugged in and turned on. Because of the lack of ventilation under the laptop, less than an hour later the lithium-ion battery overheated and burst into flames, sparking the fire that eventually killed the man.

In fact, a number of other laptop related fires have also been reported over the last few years.
References
Death reported in Menomonee Falls house fire
Man Dead in Menomonee Falls House Fire
Plymouth Church UCC eNewsletter

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