Family thinks new Samsung phone destroyed their Jeep

St. Petersburg, FL -- A St. Petersburg man thinks that he and his family may be victims of Samsung's new Galaxy Note 7 Smartphone. The phone's lithium ion battery is the focus of a recall.

PREVIOUS STORY: Samsung stops Galaxy Note 7 sales after battery explosions

More than 30 of the phones have caught fire in just the past few days worldwide.

That's a very small percentage of all phones sold, but still alarming enough for Samsung to issue that recall. Talk about frightening.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue was back out at the house Thursday, looking at what's left of the Dornachers’ Jeep Grand Cherokee. A charred hollow shell of ash and melted materials.

GALLERY: Phone causes Jeep to catch fire

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Officials are still trying to determine if, in fact, the phone was at fault.

On Labor Day, the Dornacher family had just come home to drop off some items.

The dad, Nathan, says he left his new Galaxy Note 7 sitting on the center console of the vehicle charging.

“When he came back out that's when he discovered there was a fire. His general impression was that the fire was on the interior of the dashboard somewhere,” said St. Petersburg Deputy Fire Marshal Steve Lawrence.

Lawrence says it’s a process of elimination. They have to be certain it wasn’t something else before concluding the smartphone is to blame.

“The owner is under the belief that it may have been related to a cell phone issue,” said Lawrence, “You know, he is claiming that it is the phone that was recently recalled -- they believe the Galaxy -- through Samsung.”

Even if it turns out to have been the culprit, the new Samsung phone is by no means the only device out there having problems with lithium ion batteries.

Remember all those hover-boards? There have been at least 99 incidents now of confirmed fires. So many, that they're not even allowed on airplanes.

It’s the same for E-cigarettes powered by lithium ion batteries. They’re considered dangerous enough that they can't be used on commercial aircraft; nor can they be put in checked baggage.

Laptop computers have caught fire. In fact, HP recently had to recall nearly 50,000 of its computers just three months ago. The June recall covers several models of HP and Compaq computers.

Several Tesla cars, including the 2013 Model S have caught fire, leading the automaker to strengthen the battery shield on its newer models.

And, of course, there have been other phones with battery issues, including iPhone.

“Unfortunately, sometimes when you mass-produce something in that nature, you know, some things may have gotten overlooked or it may have been a manufacturing default,” said Lawrence.

All of that being said, the chances of a product you come in contact having a problem with its lithium ion battery is very remote. There are so many of them out there.

And work is underway to manufacture lithium ion batteries with safer chemical reactions for the devices most of us use.

On Thursday, the Dornacher family posted an update on Facebook saying they don't plan to sue Samsung, but that the company is sending a representative to their home to check out their case.

Nathan Dornacher says he just wants people to know about the problem out there.

Dornacher says he had his phone only five days.

While they lost their vehicle, the only thing that really matters -- he says -- is that no one was hurt.


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