An Apple store in Amsterdam’s Leidseplein square was briefly evacuated after an explosion believed to be the result of an overheating iPad battery resulted in leaking vapors, Dutch broadcaster AT5 as well as Dutch blog iCulture reported.
The device was quickly dealt with by Apple staff who put the device in a container with sand, firefighters were called, and the store was evacuated as a precautionary measure. However, three people who were present during the incident had to be treated for respiratory issues, according to local media. [See update below.]
As 9to5Mac noted, apparently unrelated issues with iPhone batteries have resulted in “thermal events” in both Switzerland and Spain this year, with the incident in Zurich resulting in one person suffering minor burns and six others receiving treatment for what was likely smoke inhalation.
Apple, like most major manufacturers, uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in their devices, as they’re compact in size and capable of holding a lot of energy. However, lithium-ion batteries are prone to exploding if the thin, interal polypropylene layer that keeps electrodes from touching is breached or the flammable electrolyte inside gets too hot, situations that can be the result of production error, damage, design flaws, off-brand chargers, or just bad luck. Apple has historically had problems with batteries—such as its iPhone throttling fiasco and expanding MacBook batteries—but fires and dangerous overheating have generally not been at the top of the list.
While no one appears to have been seriously injured in the Amsterdam incident, much more serious safety issues have been reported for years at Apple’s Chinese suppliers like Foxconn, including explosions, fires, and chemical exposure. Per the New York Times and Business Insider, abusive and grueling labor practices at facilities owned by Foxconn, which also manufactures devices for other major companies like Amazon, have been reported to continue through this year.
Update, August 21st, 2018 at 12:50am ET: Apple has sent the following statement to Gizmodo:
We’re currently investigating the incident that took place at Apple Amsterdam on Sunday. Our staff were able to evacuate customers quickly and safely and the store re-opened shortly afterwards.
Additionally, the spokesperson wrote that emergency personnel who arrived at the scene examined staff on site, but determined they were not in need of medical attention.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the apparent battery explosion resulted in a fire that was extinguished by staff. As local fire authorities reported that there was no smoke present on the scene, it’s unclear whether any flames actually resulted, though the iPad was reported to have possibly leaked some sort of chemical vapor. We regret the error.