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Laptop Fire Death Warning Email

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Email forward warns recipients not to use laptop computers in bed because of the risk of fire. The message claims that 25-year-old Arun Gopal recently died in a tragic house fire caused by an overheated laptop left on his bed while he was sleeping. 

Brief Analysis

Reports indicate that a 25-year-old man named Arun Gopalratnam died in a June 4th, 2010 house fire in the village of Menomonee Falls, in the American state of Wisconsin. The fire started in the basement bedroom of the house. However, the cause of the fire was never conclusively determined. Thus, the claim in the message that the fire was linked to a laptop computer was not verified by fire investigators.

Example

Subject: Be aware when u work with laptop

Very useful information

A good friend of ours in Mequon lost their 25 year old son Arun Gopal in a freak fire accident at home June 4th. This is exactly what happened. Arun had graduated with MBA from University of Wisconsin-Madison just two weeks earlier and had came home from the campus for a day. He had lunch with his dad at home and decided to go back to to clean up his room at the campus.However,his dad told him to wait and see his mother before returning to the campus as she was due back from work in a couple of hours. He decided to take a snooze while waiting for his mom while his dad went out.

Neighbors called 911 when they saw black smoke coming out of the house.The 25 year old Arun 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 lap top in the bed.

When the lap top is on the bed, the area below it is blocked and the cooling fan does not get air to cool it and that is what caused the fire.

Arun did not even wake up to make any effort to get out of bed as he died of massive carbon monoxide inhalation. The purpose of this “forward” is to make aware that most of us use our lap top in bed and often go to sleep with it next to us. Please make it a practice not to do that. The risk is very real. Make it a rule either not to use the lap top in bed.

 

Detailed Analysis

This widely circulated email forward warns recipients that it may be dangerous to use a laptop computer in bed because of the possibility that the device could overheat and cause a fire. As evidence of this possible danger, the message relates the case of a 25-year-old Wisconsin man identified as Arun Gopal who died in a house fire on June 4th, 2010. 
According to the email forward, an investigation into this fire revealed that it was caused by a laptop left on the bed while Arun was sleeping. The message suggests that the cooling fan was unable to stop the computer from overheating because the vents underneath were blocked by its position on the soft bed, thus leading to the fatal fire.

Sadly, news reports indicate that a 25-year-old man named Arun Gopalratnam died in a June 4th, 2010 house fire in the village of Menomonee Falls, in the American state of Wisconsin. The fire started in the basement bedroom of the house. However, it remains unclear if the fire was actually caused by an overheating laptop as claimed in the message. In response to my query about the fire, the Fire Chief at Menomonee Falls Fire Department explained that the “fire is still under investigation, and the cause is yet to be determined”.

Later reports indicate investigators were never able to conclusively determine the cause of the fire.

Thus, the claim in the message that the fire was linked to a laptop computer was never verified by fire investigators.

That said, it should be noted that fires have indeed been caused by laptops left on beds or couches. An August 2009 CBC news report describes a case in which a Vancouver man died in a fire caused by an overheating laptop. The report notes:

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.

In fact, a number of other laptop related fires have also been reported in recent years.



Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer