Tradie lucky to be alive after horrific pocket explosion

The 28-year-old thought he was going to die alone in a warehouse after flames started 'shooting at his face'.

A Melbourne tradie who suffered severe burns after his portable phone charger exploded in his pocket is amazed he survived the frightening ordeal.

Mathew, 28, was alone on a ladder while installing an air conditioning unit in a warehouse when he suddenly heard "hissing" sounds, followed by "fire shooting at [his] face".

"It was like someone holding a kettle... and [placing] it on your knee for a long time," he recalled to A Current Affair.

"I thought that I was definitely going to die. I didn't want to die there alone in a warehouse at night... no one would find my body until the next day."

A photo of injuries sustained by a Melbourne 28-year-old tradie from a portable phone charger explosion. Another photo of the man in a hospital bed.
A 28-year-old Melbourne tradie is recovering from injuries caused by a Lithium-ion battery explosion in his portable phone charger. Source: A Current Affair

Trying to quickly get himself to hospital, he managed to drive to a nearby restaurant and then finally get a taxi from there — after another taxi and an Uber cancelled on him.

Two weeks later he still remains in hospital with significant burns to his thigh and hand. He is unable to walk, and has undergone several surgeries with more to come.

"I pretty much had to have all the skin from my quad area placed on the left thigh. The same thing for my left hand," he told ACA.

Legal action against phone charger company

Mathew's lawyer Tony Carbone said he has represented several clients against the company Comsol who produced the portable charger in which the Lithium-ion batteries exploded.

"We've settled a case where a lady's house burnt down because her phone caught on fire, and we have four other cases going to court involving phone's catching on fire when the client's have had them on their person," he told the program.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most common rechargeable batteries and are used by many brands.

A photo of Mathew's portable charger that exploded and the batteries inside.
The portable charger was inside his pants pocket when it caught on fire. Source: A Current Affair

Tradie's power bank model previously recalled

Comsol urgently carried out a recall in January 2021, telling Yahoo News Australia that "its first priority is to its customers".

"As soon as it became aware of a possible risk of injury arising from the use of some power bank models, it carried out a total recall of the particular models in cooperation with Product Safety Australia, including by conducting an extensive advertising campaign alerting consumers to the recall," a spokesperson said.

"The company understands that the model used by the young man was the subject of the recall. Notwithstanding this, the company wishes the young man a speedy recovery."

Care to be taken with batteries to avoid fire explosion

The Melbourne tradie's story is one of many that are increasingly becoming more common, whether it's to do with Lithium-ion batteries exploding in e-bikes, e-cigarettes, laptops, chargers or more.

Fire and Rescue NSW Fire Investigation and Research Unit Inspector, Chris Hughes, urges people to care for the batteries properly and use reputable brands.

“We’re urging the public to charge and store Lithium-Ion batteries outside the home... where it’s not practicable, charge lithium-ion batteries on a non-combustible surface and not in an entry/exit pathway, ensure your batteries and devices are in good condition and are compatible," he previously said.

“Stick to reputable brands and ensure your home has a working smoke alarm and a fire escape plan, especially as we head into winter.”

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