Lap-Tops May Be Fire Hazard (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Emma Koch

July 23, 2013 Updated Jul 23, 2013 at 5:00 PM EDT

UNITED STATES (www.nbc33.com) -- House fires cost Americans billions of dollars each year but one potential cause you might not expect is your lap-top computer.

Lap-tops are convenient because of their mobility and Americans are comfortable using them everywhere. But leaving it unattended on your bed or a sofa can be dangerous.

"it completely burned out that room"

Frank Teevan, Fire Marshal for the city of Manassas in Virginia says an overheated laptop battery is to blame for this fire that burned part of a two-story condo down to its frame.

A Hewlett-Packard HP Pavilion lap-top was left running in an upstairs bedroom, on a bed for 16-18 hours on a recalled battery.

The consumer product safety commission said between 2005 and 2010 multiple manufactures recalled a million laptop batteries.

Unfortunately in this case, the owner didn't know that she had a recalled battery, she put it on her bed on top of a comforter on her mattress the night before she fell asleep. She left that morning to go to work and left the laptop running plugged in on her bed.

Laptops left on soft bedding are dangerous regardless of whether they are running on a recalled battery.

Computer technicians always warn laptops get hot and the air intakes that keep them cool are on the bottom or side. They are designed to be used on a hard surface so air can cool the machine. Blocking the vents or fans can cause the computer to overheat.

In this case it got so hot it ignited the blankets and the comforter on the bed and just went from there.

The fire did an estimated $40,000 in damage and three people living in the condo were displaced.

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