I have come across a Facebook post from an unverified and unreliable source, which claims that a fire was started using heat as a source alone. Here is the exact post which is the subject of the question.
LAPTOP USERS: BE AWARE!
A couple lost their 25 year old son in a fire at home on June 4th. The son who had graduated with MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison two weeks earlier had come home for a while. He had lunch with his dad at home and decided to go back to clean up his hostel room. His father told him to wait, to meet his mother, before he went back for a few days. He decided to take a nap while waiting for his mom to come back home from work. Some time later their neighbors called 911 when they saw black smoke coming out of the house.
Unfortunately, the 25 years old died in the three year old house. It took several days of investigation to find out the cause of the fire. It was determined that the fire was caused by the laptop resting on the bed. When the laptop was on the bed cooling fan did not get the air to cool the computer and that is what caused the fire. He did not even wake up to get out of the bed because he died of breathing in carbon monoxide.
The reason I am writing this to all of you is that I have seen many of us and also our brothers& sisters sons&daughters friends&family using the laptop while in bed. Let us all decide and make it a practice not to do that. The risk is real. Let us make it a rule not to use the laptop on bed with blankets and pillows around. Please educate as many people as you can.
I would have dismissed this post as an average everyday hoax, but on searching a little further, i came across another news article "Laptop fire blamed for Vancouver death", which claims a similar but not the exact case of the facebook post. This is the relevant quote from the article
The fire started after the computer was left on a couch, plugged in and turned on. Because of the lack of ventilation under the laptop, less than an hour later the lithium-ion battery overheated and burst into flames, sparking the fire that eventually killed the man.
So my questions are
- Scientifically, I feel this is not possible to happen, since all laptops have a thermal sensor, which when crosses a certain threshold, just turns the laptop off, and I feel just the heat is not sufficient to start a fire, without any actual source of fire like a spark of some kind,an electrical short or a chemical reaction. Is my understanding correct?
- Are there any more information about similar events from trusted sources to support the claim?
- Any arguments that can falsify or justify the claim beyond any doubt.