KENNEBUNK, Maine — Thanks to the quick action of students and staff, an eighth-grader at the Middle School of the Kennebunks has been released from a hospital after her iPhone caught fire in her pocket Friday.
MSK Principal Jeff Rodman notified parents of the incident in an email Friday morning, saying the student was immediately assisted by her peers and staff, was treated by emergency crews and transported to Southern Maine Health Care Center, where she was treated for burns, described by emergency crews as “moderate,” and released.
As the situation unfolded, the school initiated a hold-in-place, Rodman said, during which students are asked to remain in classrooms with their teachers, for about 20 minutes. Normal school activities resumed after the hold-in-place was concluded, he said.
Rodman said the female student was about to start her first class of the day, at approximately 7:40 a.m., when she sat down in her classroom and “heard a pop” from her back pants pocket, where her phone was located. Immediately, the student noticed smoke coming from that area.
The student told friends — who asked boys in the classroom to go out into a hallway while they called for assistance from teachers who grabbed a blanket — while she went into a corner of the classroom. Rodman said the student’s first response was to “stop, drop and roll,” and to try to get out of the pants she was wearing.
Rodman said the cellphone fell out of the student’s pants through the process and was visibly “burnt.”
“It was something that I don’t think people had ever seen before. I’ve never seen anything like that,” Rodman said.
Crews from Kennebunk Fire Rescue responded immediately, Rodman said, and the student was cared for then transported to the hospital for additional care.
“I commend the students, I commend our staff, and the Kennebunk first responders for their immediate response and for the way it was handled,” Rodman said. “It was just a strange thing. A great response by everybody involved.”
According to crews, Rodman said the student’s quick thinking, as well as that of those around her, prevented any worse burns or injury.
EMS Division Chief Andrew Palmeri said it appears that when the student sat down, with the phone in her back pocket, the phone’s battery “shorted out.” The state fire marshal is investigating, he said.
“People should obviously use caution when placing their phones in their back pockets so as not to crush them and cause an electrical short,” he said.