After the thinkpad exploded

22nd September 2006. This used to be Alan's laptop, an IBM Thinkpad 600 with third-party batteries we bought separately: ie possibly not IBM's. Last night it exploded.

Alan was on the other side of the room from the laptop. I was elsewhere. He yelled out, I ambled towards the room in my own good time, and then I heard Fire! Real fire! Call the fire brigade, now! and I speeded up a bit.

From Alan subsequently, I gather there was an explosion and flying pieces of laptop, and a fireball, and a couple of fires started where (presumably) boiling battery landed, and one fragment smashed an LCD monitor. And then there was smoke and smell (there is still smell) and smoke alarm wailing and firemen and sirens and paramedics (happily unneeded) and police and a man with a notebook asking questions for the fire report.

And now there is black dust everywhere in the room and a stench in the house but remarkably little damage. To my disgust, even Alan's model railway is intact, although the platforms look like they have been covered in coal (hah). Because the fragments went everywhere, we have an entertaining session of "check all the wires" ahead of us now.

One more thing. Smoke alarms are a really good idea. Ours went off within minutes. I don't know whether this is true for all of the UK, but in Wales the fire service will come round and check your house and and give you smoke alarms for free and tell you useful things you might need to know. I am very glad they did.

To answer the collective inquiries and observations of IRC and phonecalls: no, it does not look likely that the data is recoverable; yes, there was a backup; I don't know how much work was lost; we are fine (Alan has some very minor burns from flying laptop shrapnel and has lost a bit of hair, but no more than you would get from playing with a soldering iron); no, as I am not a geek, it never occurred to me to stop and take photos of the exploding laptop -- I left the house like the nice 999 person told me to -- but the pictures on the exploding laptop website give you a very good idea of what happened; Conrad, I'm sorry I didn't ring back last night: I meant to, but as you see, I was distracted!

And contrary to all expectations (diolch, Gareth..), it wasn't mine, I was nowhere near it, and this one was absolutely nothing to do with me.

Quick update from Alan: Insurance people are being good, although the first question asked was a slightly incredulous 'Did anyone else see this'. Ebay from where I bought the battery haven't replied to the information I sent them. Kudos to IBM - having phoned them to report it they are actively investigating even though we are not yet sure if the battery is genuine IBM. The remaining bits of the label I dug out of the remains seem to indicate it may be. I also took the other two unexploded battery cells out of it and put them outside.

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