Alarming rise in phone battery fires on planes

Aviation authorities are reporting an alarming rise in the number of fires caused by batteries in passengers' electronic devices.

They say it's worrying enough when it happens in the cabin, but the real fear is what would happen if the device was in the baggage hold. 

Minutes before take-off, a bag in the overhead locker of a China Southern Airlines plane caught fire on Sunday (local time). Panicked passengers and crew used water and juice to put out the flame, which was caused by a phone charger. 

In January, everyone on board a Russian plane was evacuated after a similar but more serious fire broke out. 

The incidents have highlighted the hazards of bringing lithium ion batteries on planes, which are used to power phones, laptops and even e-cigarettes. 

Passengers are told not to pack them in checked luggage, as a fire in the hold could be catastrophic. 

The United States has recorded nearly 200 fires on aircraft since 1991. 

In February, a fire broke out in a bag being screened at an airport in Denver. On a flight from Beijing to Melbourne, a woman was left injured when her battery-powered headphones ignited.

The Civil Aviation Authority has issued some simple rules for airline passengers. They say to keep batteries in carry-on luggage only, don't fully charge them before travelling and leave damaged batteries at home. 



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