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Apple Legal Reportedly Hinders Reporter's Investigation of iPods Catching Fire

Amy Clancy of KIRO 7 TV in Seattle reports on her investigation of complaints of iPods overheating, smoldering and catching fire. The complaints, made to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, amount to over 800 pages of documentation covering 15 incidents that Apple's lawyers repeatedly tried to prevent Clancy from accessing under a Freedom of Information Act request.

It took more than 7-months for KIRO 7 Consumer Investigator Amy Clancy to get her hands on documents concerning Apple's iPods from the Consumer Product Safety Commission because Apple's lawyers filed exemption after exemption. In the end, the CPSC released more than 800 pages which reveal, for the very first time, a comprehensive look that shows, on a number of occasions, iPods have suddenly burst into flames, started to smoke, and even burned their owners.

The complaints cover a broad array of iPod models over the years and include incidents that occurred while the devices were charging and not.

Analysis of the incidents suggests that the lithium-ion batteries used in the iPods are responsible for the overheating. Apple last summer acknowledged that in some cases batteries in the first-generation iPod nano could overheat, leading the company to request that concerned users contact Apple to discuss possible replacement. Apple's replacement policy gained renewed attention earlier this month when South Korean media initially suggested that Apple had issued a full recall of the first-generation iPod nano, although Apple quickly denied that there had been any change in its procedures for the affected devices.

While the Consumer Product Safety Commission has not taken action against Apple regarding the overheating iPods, the agency is requesting that Apple continue to keep it abreast of the situation. The agency also notes that Apple has addressed these specific concerns in recent model releases by having changed its battery technology, although similar reports regarding Apple's newer iPod touch models have begun to surface.

One of the reasons the CPSC gives for not taking action now is because "the current generation of iPods uses a battery which has not been shown to have similar problems." When asked by Clancy, when this "current generation" of batteries started being used, and what type of battery it is, Apple would not comment. But earlier this year a lawsuit against Apple was filed in Cincinnati because, the lawyer claims, an iPod Touch, one of Apple's newest edition of iPods, also powered by a lithium ion battery, exploded and caught fire while in a teenagers pocket. The suit claims the boy suffered second-degree burns to his leg, and that the iPod was off at the time. This incident is not included in the CPSC's file.