Rural firefighters have issued an urgent warning over the danger of leaving mobile phones to charge on soft or fabric surfaces after a young woman's iPhone ignited while she was driving.
Volunteers from Clifton Grove Ophir Rural Fire Brigade had been responding to reports of a car fire on Saturday night. Upon arrival, Deputy Captain Katrina Smith was surprised to find it had been ignited by a mobile phone.
The incident unfolded after a 19-year-old driver had plugged her new iPhone 10 up to her car's charger and it had exploded after its low battery as well as the fabric surface it was resting on caused it to overheat.
The car's interior had then quickly caught alight, and despite the young woman doing the 90km/hr speed limit, she managed to safely pull over and escape the vehicle without injury.
"By the time we actually arrived on scene the fire had been extinguished however the whole interior of the car... was actually melting," Deputy Captain Smith said.
"The battery had heated up and the young lady was very quick in her actions which was highly impressive," she added.
"She parked the car safely, got out of the vehicle, closed the door - all of the windows were [already] closed -, and because she had done that it had actually extinguished the fire.
"There were flames when she pulled over [because] the phone had exploded.
"The risk of injury was very significant. She was very lucky to walk away from that, very lucky."
The experienced volunteer fire captain said she had never seen anything like it before, adding that even she was surprised to learn that the phone's low battery had caused it to overheat.
"That's what surprised me because I always thought it was the other way around - that [when] we overcharge [batteries] they overheat. It was quite the opposite," she said.
"Apparently when the batteries are very low that's when they produce heat because they're working harder."
The young driver had been in an "awful lot of shock" but Deputy Captain Smith commended the 19-year-old's quick-thinking actions in a situation where many others would have panicked.
"She was very lucky... She definitely made all the right moves... For her to pull over in a safe spot [while doing 90 km/hr] was impressive. So she did really well."
The young driver had also managed to extinguish the fire simply by shutting the door when she exited the vehicle so the flames couldn't be fed oxygen.
Following the incident, the brigade took photos of the aftermath from the car fire and posted them to social media to try and get the message out to the community about the danger of leaving mobile phones on fabric surfaces - especially whilst charging.
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