‘I had to rip my pants off’: Man says iPhone exploded in pocket, burned him

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LINDENHURST, N.Y. (March 2, 2015) – A man is recovering after he says his iPhone exploded in his pocket.

Erik Johnson says it happened on Valentine’s Day.

“My iPhone blew up. And everybody’s answer is, ‘What?’”

“I bent over to get keys and all I heard was a ‘pop’ and after a little ‘ssshh,’ smoke coming out and just like an instant burn,” he said. “My leg just starts going on fire, try to get it out, can’t get it out. I was literally jumping up and down to get the phone out of my pocket but I had dress pants on. I think the phone melted my pockets shut so I couldn’t get into it and I had to rip my pants off. A couple of people actually said they could smell my body burning.”

Johnson spent 10 days in the burn unit with second and third-degree burns. The metal case on his iPhone 5C is warped and stuck to the phone.

“I guess, like, when you’re branding a bull or something like that, that’s what it felt like. It really did,” said Johnson.

“There have been millions if not billions of phones sold in the last year. The rate of incidents is marginal, it’s infinitesimal,” said Ronald Gerber, CEO of Angelbeat.

Gerber says the smallest bit of damage to a phone’s circuit board, or the use of third-party charging devices, can cause the battery to overheat and spew lithium lava. In this case, Johnson says he used an Apple cable for his iPhone.

“Obviously, Apple has to take a closer look at what they’re putting out in the stream of commerce before they go out and sell these items that could potentially be this dangerous,” said Mike Della, a lawyer.

“I just want my leg back to what it was, you know,” Johnson said.

Apple said it’s looking into the case.