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B.C. Family Blames iPhone for Farmhouse Fire, Seeking $600K in Damages

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A family in Langley, British Columbia is blaming an iPhone for a fire that burnt down their farmhouse. They are seeking a total of $600,000 from Apple for uninsured losses and the closure of their farm.

Cathy and Ian Finley, the owners of Laurica Farm, are known to the community for their sustainable farm tours, educational events, and camps.

Following Thanksgiving day in 2016, Cathy said that she plugged her phone in and left it on a leather chair before heading out to feed her goats. When she returned 20 minutes later, she saw a large amount of smoke billowing from their home.

The fire was put out in less than an hour, but it caused significant damages that ultimately lead to the loss of countless family possessions and the demolition of the remaining structure. According to the fire investigator, the phone or the charger generated enough heat to ignite the leather chair, causing the large fire.

Due to the damages, the farm has now been closed. The family has started to build a new home, but the $600,000 insurance payout did not cover all the costs and losses of their family business.

Cathy first contacted Apple last February, but after several dozen emails, she feels like the conversation has gone nowhere. Apple has not yet officially commented on the situation, but they seem to be looking into the claim very slowly.

[via CBC News]

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  • Bill___A

    It is regrettable that they had an incident.

    So the phone was put on a chair to charge, a fire started, it was put out in an hour, the house had to be demolished, they got a $600,000 payout from insurance and they want another $600,000 from Apple?

    I’m not sure why someone would leave a phone on a chair while it is charging, And this is right in the midst of the time that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones are having all of these problems with batteries and fires and the like..which is all over the news.

    I really don’t know what to make of this story.

  • Apple was setup as their scape goat! ? Because… they’re goat farmers.

  • Joe

    What type of charger were they using? Was it Apple branded?

    We’ve seen plenty of iPhones cause fires while charging, but I can’t recall a single incident where the phone itself was at fault. This is why Apple offers free exchanges for knock-off chargers at any Apple store. Langley is well within driving distance to an Apple store.

    Don’t get me wrong, if the iPhone is responsible, then I think the family should get money. But if the iPhone was causing fires, we’d have more than one example of this.

  • Joe

    Also, it’s pretty reckless for this family to make a graphic that claims Apple is responsible for making them homeless. I hope Apple doesn’t countersue them.

  • sukisszoze

    It’s unfortunate that they lost almost everything in a fire. If the payout was not enough, did they not buy adequate insurance in the first place to cover their valuable including loss of income?

  • aRhyno

    Do iPhones stop charging if they get too hot? I think my phone wouldn’t work once when I left it in a hot car, it’s beem a while

  • SV650

    I understand from the graphic, it is the animals which they are claiming will be homeless.

  • It’s Me

    There are problems with their story and with their expectation that Apple should just pay them.
    1) Why was it charging on a soft surface, like a leather chair. Was it also on/under a cushion or blanket?
    2) Fire investigators say the phone or the charger got hot enough to ignite the leather chair. Shouldn’t it be obvious that it was one or the other? Charger is attached to wall, phone was on leather chair. Charger cannot have directly ignited chair unless it was a portable charger that was also sitting on the chair. Otherwise the could only have ignited the wall or something on the wall. If the investigator can’t say whether it was the wall or the chair that first ignited nor say whether it was the phone or the charger that was perhaps 1-2 feet away, so can they say it had to be one of the other?
    3) What model phone? Ever replace the battery yourself with a 3rd party?
    4) 3rd party charger?
    5) Power pack charger?

    Apparently they are basing all of their blame towards Apple based on a fire investigator’s findings that are far from clear and self-contradicting. That’s not the firmest foundation on which to build a case.

  • Rick Jeans

    My thought exactly. What charger were they using. I read about some problems with non Apple chargers.

  • khiladi420

    I’ve left mine out (screen side up) in the open on a very hot day and the phone just turned off saying that the temperature had exceeded the limit.

  • instagram- koodopromoz

    If they were using an unofficial Apple charger… most likely they get nothing

  • swotam

    Seems to me they’re trying to use the media to shame Apple into paying for their uninsured losses without any actual proof of which component (phone / charger) caused the fire. Of course, if everything involved was Apple-branded and not 3rd party then perhaps Apple would have some sort of liability and I suspect Apple would do something for them.

    But to expect Apple to pay them a huge chunk of money based on nothing more than an unproven assertion is foolish, and if Apple did so it would open them up to all sorts of scam artists coming out of the woodwork.

    Not saying they don’t have a potentially valid complaint, but it has to be proven first and not something you try to guilt the company into accommodating.

  • swotam

    The phone will definitely shut off the screen or power off entirely if it gets too hot, but if it was a battery fire or fire caused by a bad connection on the charger/ cable that would be a different sort of thing.

  • swotam

    They seem to be claiming that the fire caused them to lose their ability to use their farm as a money-making venture because the house was destroyed. They got the insurance money for the house, which they’re rebuilding, but now they want Apple to give them more money to compensate for their loss of their farm-related business, or something along those lines.

    Seems like a weak argument to me unless they can definitively prove the phone or Apple branded charger / cable caused the fire without any additional source being involved.

  • cayaguy

    100% this was a dollar store charger.

  • It’s Me

    Completely agreed.

  • Riley Freeman

    anyone that lets a phone charge on leather is an idiot. Phones get hot when they charge. This is not new.

    Case dismissed.

  • Riley Freeman

    iphones shut down when they get too hot but charger hot is not too hot. Leather is the root of the problem here and the fact they were dumb enough to leave it charging on leather

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Yeah that’s a pretty important detail to leave out of the story. The story doesn’t even mention if the phone is an iPhone.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I totally agree, how can it be that “the phone or the charger generated enough heat to ignite the leather chair, causing the large fire” Makes no sense. Even more baffling is how these stories are reported these days as if it all makes sense. Red is green. Tall is short. Shouldn’t the story say something like, “Although this makes no sense, the fire marshal was reported as saying…”

  • Bill___A

    This and many other things from the CBC Website story:

    “The cellphone was on a combustible surface while charging. It was in the area of origin but was not ruled out or determined to be the igniting object or direct cause of the fire,” he wrote to CBC.

    So it also says they had troubles with their own insurer which delayed their payment for a year.

    They seem to be thinking they can “shame” Apple into paying them.

    I am certainly not supportive of this. If any company is at fault, it should be dealt with in the courts.

    However, the phone being on a combustible surface when charging…that’s just not a good plan. I’m sure Apple didn’t do that.

  • pegger1

    “Charger hot” is not “ignite leather on fire hot”.
    While yes they shouldn’t leave it charging on a leather surface. In a normal scenario that’s not going to start a fire. Something faulty here, with either the phone, the cord or the charger.

  • pegger1

    An official Apple charger is more likely to fray than a dollar store charger.

  • pegger1

    First line of story says the family is “blaming an iPhone for a fire”. What did you understand that to mean?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Headlines are often written by different people than the story. The actual story just says “phone”. I’ll forgive that, but the actual important bits are missing from the story such as: Was the charger an Apple charger? Was the Lightning cable an Apple lightning cable? If any or all of these were not Apple products, the blame may lie elsewhere. For example, if I bought a charger and cable from Dollarama and it started a fire while I was charging my iPhone, maybe it’s not Apple’s fault.

  • CBC News article:

    “A B.C. couple are demanding Apple pay $600,000 in uninsured losses after they were forced to close their farm business following a devastating house fire that they claim was sparked by a faulty iPhone.”

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Ok my bad I missed that – I read “Cathy said that she plugged her phone in and left it on a leather chair” and missed the other one.

    But, I don’t want to distract from Joe’s initial point – “What type of charger were they using? Was it Apple branded?” That was the important detail I was referring to.

    I’ll delete the sentence about the iPhone since it’s wrong and distracting.

  • aOsTECH

    1000%

  • aOsTECH

    a cheap usb adaptor will cause a fire, not the cord

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