Kyocera Phone Battery Flames Injure Teen User

July 06, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

A Kyocera Wireless 2325 cell phone, manufactured by Kyocera Wireless Corp. (San Diego, CA), a global manufacturer of CDMA wireless handsets and telemetry modules, has been reported as causing "fist-size flames" that injured a California teenager. Witnesses said the 16-year-old girl had the phone in her back pocket, when her phone let out a whoosh, bulged, then shot out flames and smoke. She was treated for second-degree burns at an area hospital and was released shortly afterwards.

Witnesses saw flames coming from the bottom of the phone, where vents are installed to prevent overheating batteries from exploding. The battery, once wafer-sized, was "the shape of a sausage with one end open." Frank Huddleston, an investigator at the Ontario, CA, fire department, suspects the phone's battery, its original, is to blame for the accident. He stressed that the exact cause is still to be determined.

The incident is not the first reported instance of a Kycera phone malfunctioning. In October 2003, Kyocera temporarily halted shipments of its KE413 Phantom phone after one sold by Cricket Wireless vented hot gasses, scaring a consumer in Omaha, NB. Kyocera determined it was an isolated problem and began selling the phone a week later. In January, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall of cell phone batteries, some 40,000 from Coslight International Group in Hong Kong. The batteries were on four phones, all Kyocera Wireless models that overheated. One person was slightly injured from the defect. The batteries were also available from Verizon Wireless and Alltel.

The CPSC was made aware of the event, but has yet to decide what to do. Verizon Wireless, which sold the phone, is seeking out the California girl's family to learn more. Kyocera Wireless did not return calls seeking comment.