WATCH ABOVE: A central Alberta teen suffered third-degree burns in a fire in his family’s home, which they believe started when his charging cellphone caught fire. Eric Szeto reports.
EDMONTON – A Rimbey man has a warning for others after his son suffered third-degree burns when his charging cellphone apparently overheated and caught fire while he was sleeping earlier this week.
Rob Schultz said his family went to bed around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Around midnight, he woke up to the sound of his 16-year-old son yelling from the basement that his room was on fire.
“We ran to see what was going on and his bed was on fire really bad and some of the furniture there too,” Schultz said Thursday.
The house wasn’t on fire, so he and his family decided to try to douse the blaze themselves while they waited for fire crews to arrive.
“I saw how bad that bed was on fire and it was like, ‘We’ve got to put that fire out right now or the house is going to burn down,'” Schultz recalled.
They used water from the bathroom and his son grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher.
“He came back and hit it with the fire extinguisher and we ran out of the house.”
The teen suffered third-degree burns to his right leg and other parts of his body. No one else was injured in the fire, but Schultz said his son is really shaken up.
“He’s scared still. That was a scary thing for all of us. I never expected to see what I saw when I turned the corner and looked into that room.”
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, the family believes the charging phone was to blame; it was sitting on the night stand when the fire started. The charger was not the original one that came with the iPhone; the family bought it at a gas station, Schultz said.
Rimbey’s deputy fire chief said people need to be very careful with all electronic devices.
“Everything from iPads to your laptop to your iPhone, everything. Charge them on the kitchen counter. Unplug them, take them into your room then lay them on your bed or the night stand,” said Bonnie Grundy.
“When they’re plugged in the electricity is live right to the end of that cord.”
The Schultzs aren’t alone; on Thursday morning an overheated cellphone sparked a blaze in a northeast Edmonton condo complex. Damages are pegged at $175,000.
Schultz and his family hope to move back into the upstairs portion of their home this weekend. They plan on being much more mindful about how they charge their devices in the future.
“Not charging at night, that is out. There’s just too many bad things that can happen,” he said. “You have to charge during your wake hours so you can be monitoring your phones and feeling them…in bed is absolutely out.”
The basement bedroom sustained minor smoke and fire damage.
Rimbey is located about 140 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
With files from Eric Szeto, Global News.