Parent furious after teen's Samsung phone caught fire while she was sleeping

- There isn't much left of Asia Shirley's new Samsung smartphone.

"I heard a sound it was like shhh," said the 14-year-old Charlotte teen. "And then I started smelling smoke."

Asia was staying over a friend's house when she was jolted awake by a smoke alarm. When she reached for her phone she realized that's what was burning.

"It's just smoking and you can see it melting," she said. "Like the battery and everything melting."

The teen's Galaxy J7 Prime, which she has had for just three months, had been charging when it started to melt. 

Shirley said her daughter was using a Samsung charger at the time. 

"We could have not been paying attention and next thing you know the house is on fire," said Asia's mother, Janice Shirley.

"You heard about other people's phones," said Shirley. "I just didn't think Asia had a phone that would just catch on fire. Like really? A phone?"

The Galaxy J7 is not on any recall list. This latest complaint comes a year after Samsung was forced to recall millions of Galaxy Note 7's because its lithium ion batteries could overheat and catch fire. It was so bad, the phones were banned on all U.S. flights.

FOX 46 found at least three other similar cases involving the Galaxy J7 online including a report last month where the phone caught fire mid-air on a Jet Airways flight in India.

A search of saferproducts.gov shows more complaints about other Samsung models. One consumer complained the Galaxy Note 4 battery "exploded." Another consumer reported the S6 started "hissing" while charging. 

"I see a flash of bright light and start screaming fire," the person wrote in the report. 

"It doesn't sound good," said technology expert Tom Jelneck. "And to their defense this could happen to a variety of vendors. But it does seem Samsung in the last two years has had some pretty serious issues with these."

Samsung redesigned the J7 to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening by changing the way the battery fits, Jelneck said. While the incidents of phones catching on fire may be rare, Jelneck says they're troubling.

"Obviously Samsung needs to do some hardcore testing on these [phones]," said Jelneck. "If I'm Samsung, I'm paying really close attention to what's going on and how many complaints they're starting to see."

In a statement Samsung tells FOX 46:

We reached out to the Shirley family to learn more about the incident, obtain the device, and ensure we are doing everything we can for them. Until Samsung is able to thoroughly examine any unit, it is impossible to determine the true cause of any incident. Mobile phones are complex products and there are many factors that could contribute to their malfunction. Any customer who has questions about a Samsung product should contact us directly at 1-800-SAMSUNG.

But, for Shirley, no explanation is good enough when it comes to her daughter's safety.

"As long as we've been getting phones," she said, "to have one just burst into flames like that is crazy."

Samsung officials picked up the phone Monday to examine it, Shirley said late Monday, adding the company said they would reimburse her for the phone.

So what can you do?

 

There are some preventative steps you can take to help reduce your risk, according to Jelneck. 

  • Research the phone before you buy it to see if there are any complaints.
  • If your phone gets too hot to touch turn it off. If it continues, return it to the store.
  • Don't overload your phone with apps.
  • Use a charger that is made by the phone manufacturer. 
  • Make sure your charger isn't frayed because that can cause a short.
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