Fire breaks out at Chinese factory behind Galaxy Note7 batteries

8 Feb 2017

Image: M DOGAN/Shutterstock

Not long after Samsung linked production issues at one of its factories to the disastrous Galaxy Note7 saga, the same factory has now caught fire.

The launch and subsequent recall of the Galaxy Note7 will live long in the memory of customers who purchased the device, which was found to have a number of explosive battery defaults.

Samsung ended up paying billions of dollars to orchestrate a global replacement and recall programme for the phone, only to give up and order that all production of the devices be halted.

In its report on the possible cause, or causes, of the fires reported by users, Samsung identified issues with two of its factories, which incorrectly manufactured the batteries and inadvertently caused a major health hazard for consumers.

Now reports have confirmed that a major Samsung SDI battery factory, based in the Chinese region of Tianjin’s Wuqing district, has caught fire.

According to the South China Morning Post, officials said that a minor fire had occurred at the plant with no injuries, but pictures and other sources reveal a far greater amount of damage.

19 fire tenders and more than 100 firefighters were called to the scene to put out the flames that were emitting huge quantities of black smoke into the air.

Production not affected

According to the crews on the ground, the source of the fire was a pile of lithium-ion batteries and other discarded battery materials.

Despite previous claims, the fire did not start in the factory itself where the batteries are assembled, but at a waste facility at the plant, according to Bloomberg.

Although local environmental officers were monitoring the area for any potential damage caused by the heavy black smoke, the production of other batteries could continue unabated.

The news is unlikely to have pleased Samsung, which continues to distance itself from the PR disaster that wiped $5.3bn off its operating profit. The South Korean giant’s flagship phone – the Galaxy S8 – has been delayed to ensure the same problems don’t happen again.

Samsung logo. Image: M DOGAN/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic