Samsung just can’t catch a break. Last year, its flagship Note 7 smartphones started exploding — and now one of the factories responsible for making them has caught fire.
Waste products, including faulty batteries, caused the fire at the Chinese factory, owned by Samsung affiliate company Samsung SDI. It described it as a “minor fire,” according to the South China Morning Post — and has now been extinguished without any casualties.
The fire broke out not on the production line itself but in a part of the facility used for waste, including faulty batteries, said Samsung SDI spokesman Shin Yong-doo. He added that most of the factory was running as normal.
The local fire department, however, said on its microblog that the fire was caused by batteries inside the facility.
The “material that caught fire was lithium batteries inside the production workshops and some half-finished products”, the Wuqing branch of the Tianjin Fire Department said in a post on its verified Sina Weibo account. It added it had sent out 110 firefighters and 19 trucks to put out the fire.
Samsung said last month that SDI and China’s Amperex Technology Ltd, the two battery suppliers for the Note 7, were to blame for the product failure that cost it $5.3 billion in operating profit. The Note 7 was initially well-reviewed, but then dozens of the devices started exploding — forcing Samsung to order an unprecedented global recall and discontinue the device.
SDI is now set to start supplying batteries for Samsung’s upcoming flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, in the first quarter of this year. The device will be watched closely, as any repeat of the Note 7 debacle would be absolutely disastrous for Samsung’s reputation.
The Tianjin plant that caught fire is one of five production centers by SDI in China and a major one for small batteries used in phones.