A top UK comedian’s show really was on fire when an audience member’s phone overheated and burst into flames.
Jason Manford had just finished the first half of his show called Muddle Class when the drama unfolded at the Lyric theatre inside the Lowry at Salford in Manchester.
The phone was destroyed by the fire and the audience evacuated for 20 minutes while firefighters from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service were called to the scene.
Jason, currently touring across the UK, tweeted a photo of a fire engine outside the venue, joking "on fire tonight." He also tweeted a picture of the fire damaged phone dumped in a bucket.
The Lowry said: “The Lyric Theatre was evacuated this evening after a patron’s mobile phone overheated during the interval of Jason Manford. Our security removed the phone from the venue and the fire service attended as per our emergency procedures. Show delayed by approx 20 mins before continuing.”
One of the theatre's seats was reportedly damaged and some smoke had spread around the upper atrium and light rigging area.
The question is what happens if a mobile phone catches fire on a packed passenger plane at over 30,000ft.
This rise in lithium battery fires is posing a particular problem in the confined space of passenger aircraft which is why cabin crew now often include in the safety briefing a warning that if passengers lose their mobile phones down seats they should alert the staff and not try to retrieve it themselves. If they do, the phone could get crushed in the seat mechanism, sparking a thermal runaway fire.
When this happens one cell overheating in a battery can produce enough heat – up to 900°C (1652°F) – to cause adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly or even explode.
One way to tackle such incidents is to use an AvSax fire containment bag which can deal with fires in personal electronic devices and are now carried on more than 13,000 aircraft operated by 65 airline companies across the world – including some of the biggest and best-known.
AvSax – which won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2018 - has been used more than 30 times to deal with emergencies since the start of 2017. Deployment is so effective that extremely expensive diversions to alternate airports are avoided.