Burn Baby Burn

I haven’t had much time to post over the past few days mainly because the power adapter on my Apple Powerbook caught on fire and my computer is out of service until I get another one.

On Saturday evening, Nick had gone to bed and I thought : ‘Oooh, might be time to do a blog post.’ I opened my laptop and there was a ZAP followed by smoke and a few sparks. I quickly unplugged everything but my adapter continued to smoulder and eventually caught fire.

I realised then that I am ill-equipped for dealing with a fire in the house. I don’t have a fire extinguisher or even a fire blanket. I knew you don’t throw water on electrical fires so I put the flaming power cord into an empty bucket and tossed the whole thing out onto the grass in the garden, then began to throw clods of earth on it. I must have looked like a madwoman.

You should have seen the guy’s face in the Apple store when I brought my singed, earth-encrusted adapter in to get a replacement. Well, it wasn’t too earth-encrusted, but part of the casing had been melted slightly by the heat.

He started a big hoo haa about how the warranty may not be honoured under such circumstances; whereupon I went into a big tirade about how the Minister for Fair Trading might not like to hear of someone selling faulty goods which may have actually caused damage to life and limb, who was not prepared to honour the terms of their warranty. And yes, I hate to admit it, but the F word was used – several times in fact. I went all Gordon Ramsay on his ass.

What bothered me the most about the entire incident was that the Apple guy said the adapter went on fire because I probably wasn’t using it properly.

Ah, erm, it’s a plug, mate. You plug one end into the computer and the other into the wall. What could I possibly be doing wrong?

Mr. Apple claimed such a thing had never happened before. Funny then that when I went round to the service centre there were two other people there with the same problem as me. One woman had just bought her adapter two weeks before. Seems that we were all lacking in the ability to plug things in department.

I am posting this on my son’s PC. I’m not used to Windows. Everything’s all back to front. It’s like typing while hanging upside down. I will get my new adapter in 3 days. Until then I won’t know if my hard drive is still intact. I will also be slightly nervous in case there are any further fires. Think I’ll boot up with a clod of earth in one hand and a fire extinguisher in the other.

23 thoughts on “Burn Baby Burn

  1. I will keep good thoughts for the well being of your hard drive. They make me use a WIndows PC at work (and it IS upside down) but but I’m a die hard Mac fan, use one at home, and would be in the fetal position almost immediately if I had to wait 3 days for a power adapter.

    Hang in there! Sagacious Woman


  2. You know what, that is actually a KNOWN problem and I thought Apple has fixed the problem, and all the newer versions of their Powerbooks should not have the power adapter problem.

    In the meantime, hang in there.


  3. Adapter abuser! I KNEW it!

    Quality and Customer Service are dying breeds. Good on you – until customers start DEMANDING it again, they’ll continue to rip us off. That happened to me last year with my laptop – it’s freaky, all that fire.

    Looking like a mad woman – that I would have LOVED to have seen! hehe

    Here’s to Selma being happy in 3 days with a new, fire-less adapter! *raises glass of orange juice in tribute*


  4. sounds dangerous but you seem to handle that just fine, I definitely would hate to have this happen to me, I use a apple laptop as well, could not use to Window’s interface

    I hope your laptop’s fine, Macs usually don’t break that easily, I know because I dropped my laptop 3 times and it still works…


  5. I think you handle that just fine, sure would like to see that Apple guy’s face, it’s hard to find good service these days


  6. Ooooooooh scary. (I do hope your hard drive is ok.) And yes, the power adapter issue is known… (you should be able to google it.)

    Once a year I somehome manage to start a fire. I wonder if baking soda works on electrical fires.


    It was funny. I think the poor guy didn’t know what to do with himself. It just bothered me that he expressed no concern for my wellbeing or anything. I mean, it could have caused a major fire. It bothered me that he was so quick to suggest it was my fault.

    I got so angry because I saw the power adapters in the retail area but they insisted the new one had to come from the service area (whatever that means.) I think it’s a shame that a standard adapter can’t be used. I am in the semi-fetal position at the moment but am slowly recovering. πŸ˜€

    I do have an older powerbook. I suppose 5 years in computer years is like a hundred years in human years. But there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a zippy little thing. It bothers me that this is a known issue and Apple haven’t tried to fix it. It’s actually the ultimate marketing plan. Buy a new computer or your adapter will burst into flames every 6 months. Sheesh.

    It happened to you too? That is just unacceptable. I wonder how many injuries have been sustained by laptops. A friend of mine who is an electrician said the Apple adapters are very cheaply made. Yet they cost over $120.00. Corporate profiteering, that’s what it is. Think I need a little twist in my OJ πŸ˜‰

    You’re right – the Macs are pretty sturdy. I would be surprised if anything is gone from my hard drive. Who knows, maybe the surge of power actually caused my book to finish itself. Awesome!

    I have heard baking soda is good. And it is much less messy than dirt. I hope there isn’t a next time, but if there is, I’ll be better prepared.


  8. Hi PAUL,
    Shocking, isn’t it? My only excuse is that I am originally from Glasgow and we do like a wee bit of a swear. I know it’s inexcusabubble even though I was driven to it. πŸ˜†


  9. While I’d have probably used the F-word too, I think the words ‘Trading Standards Officer’ might have had more effect.

    However, you did do the right thing in dealing with the burning adaptor … you could also have smothered it with an ordinary blanket, provided it’s thick enough (and, you didn’t value the blanket very much)

    You see, for a fire to happen, you need what firefighters call the ‘Triangle’ … fire, fuel and air; take one of these away and the fire’s dealt with. The important thing is to unplug it, if you can … or at least, switch off the mains.


  10. An afterthought … it wasn’t/can’t be coiled up, or anything? Because, if you’re using an extension lead, or something, you MUST uncoil it fully … I’ve had one catch fire on me in such circumstances; never again!


  11. i would be devastated,, but i am glad you had the presents of mind to do what you did.. if dirt worked then i say so be it…

    glad to have you back….


  12. “but the F word was used – several times in fact. I went all Gordon Ramsay on his ass.”

    AHHAHAHHAAH I would have done the same thing! And I m terribly sorry to hear you received such crappy treatment from the Apple Guy. Ive never had issues like that with Apple. I’d file a real complaint! That’s so not cool

    oh…and I would have had a heart attack if anything on my computer caught on fire!


  13. Oh Gordon…er I mean Selma. I was imagining your little elfin face swearing and cursing at that imbecile and I’m sorry but it cracked me up. Sometimes the F word is simply the only word that will work when trying to get a point across. It’s been known to sneak into my vocabulary once or twice…:)


    I did mention the Department of Fair Trading and I’m still considering writing to them. It probably won’t do much but my concern is if it happens to someone else and there is a serious accident. I’ve got to say, the whole thing scared me a bit. Unplugging something that is on fire is quite freaky. I don’t know how firemen deal with that on a daily basis.

    I learned my technique from working in a restaurant while I was at Uni. The chef there used to throw things that were on fire out into the backyard. Everything went out there – teatowels, frying pans, my dinner. it was all concrete so there was no chance of anything being set alight. Quite funny, really.

    It’s good that no one was hurt, although the Apple guy may still be reeling. I am very bad!

    It does freak you out because you immediately think of all the things you have on there and if you have adequately backed them up. I’m still waiting on my new adapter and I am growing worried I have lost a lot of stuff on my hard drive. Hope I know by the weekend.

    NO! I cannot believe that πŸ˜†
    You’re right, sometimes only a good FUDGE OFF will do. I can see why Ramsay says it – it is deeply satisfying!!!!


  15. Have you seen a firefighter’s gloves?

    But, your household rubber gloves will do, and you could use a wooden spoon or something to turn the plug off … sorry, forgot; there’s no switch on an Aussie plug, is there?


    We definitely need a switch on those plugs. And next time I will use a wooden spoon or rubber gloves. I just didn’t think it through. Thanks for the tips!


  17. Hahaha… Now, I’m just going to be looking for a reason to go “all Gordon Ramsey” on someone’s ass. My goal for the week.


  18. Hi FAIQA,
    How lovely of you to visit. We have adopted a new saying in our family as a result of Mr. Ramsey. If we see someone ‘spitting the dummy’ as we call having a tantrum in Australia, we say: ‘Oh, look, he’s doing a Gordon.’ You wouldn’t believe how many Gordons we’ve spotted this week!


  19. Selma – all Gordon Ramsey-esque!!!! That must have been a sight to see! After reading this I’m checking my adapter – all looks well and I can’t imagine going back to a PC after having a Mac.


  20. TBALL:
    So great to hear from you. I am glad your adapter is OK, but please check it from time to time to see how hot it is. I am getting used to the PC but I miss the luxury of lying in bed blogging. I am supposed to be getting my new adapter tomorrow. Fingers crossed!


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