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Brampton man burned after Samsung phone allegedly explodes

Last Updated Aug 9, 2019 at 1:26 pm EDT

Kunal Sharma says he was left with several burns to his face and arm after his Samsung S5 allegedly burst into flames. Photo credit: Affinity Law

A Brampton man said he was left with burns and scars after his Samsung S5 allegedly burst into flames.

Kunal Sharma was sitting in his living room with his family last month when he suddenly felt his phone heating up in his hands.

The 23 year-old has muscular dystrophy, and limited movement to his hands, so called his uncle over to check it out. But, within seconds the device exploded, shooting flames toward the ceiling.

“My uncle kicked it onto the floor,” Sharma told CityNews. “I was in pain, I couldn’t breathe, there was smoke all over. My nose and my lips got burned [as well as] my neck and my hands.”

The Samsung S5 that allegedly exploded in the hands of Kunal Sharma. Photo credit to Affinity Law.

This isn’t the first time Samsung has had an issue with phones catching fire. In 2016, they recalled their Galaxy Note 7, saying the battery had potential to overheat and burn. Health Canada said that from the time of the Note 7 recall to Aug. 7 of this year, they received 224 reports related to Samsung phones. Seventy three of the reported incidents involved injury — 88 per cent of which were burns.

Health Canada said the majority of the burns reported were minor and only very few were reports of moderate severity. The highest number of burn-related incidents was in 2017 with 30 reported cases.

Sharma, who uses a wheelchair, said the S5 was a Christmas gift from his parents five years ago and became one of his biggest forms of entertainment. Now, he said it’s become a source of stress.

“I’m scared of touching electronics now,” he said. “I get nightmares too. In the night, I can’t sleep.”

The company did not answer questions about whether there had been similar reports of issues with the S5 in the past.

In a statement to CityNews, they did say, “Samsung takes customer safety very seriously. In any case of this sort, we take every step to investigate and remedy the concern.”

“This relies on the customer allowing us to obtain the Galaxy S5 device and charger, which he has declined to do so far. Since we have not had an opportunity to inspect the device and charger we cannot speculate on the cause of the specific issue,” read the statement.

A lawyer retained by Sharma’s family said they have been in contact with Samsung and are pursuing legal action, which is why they are hesitant to hand over their only piece of evidence.

“At this time we want further answers, and communication is still ongoing with Samsung,” said Haider Bahadur, a partner with Affinity Law, and a lawyer representing the family.

He points out the phone was bought brand new, the battery was never replaced, and no after-market chargers were used. Sharma said the phone was not in a case, nor was it charging at the time of the incident.

“It could happen to anyone,” he said. “They need to do something about it so it won’t happen to other people.”