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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Cell phones spark controversy

Subject: Fw: Warning: Cell phones cause fires!

Starting in the year 2000, e-mails bearing a similar title began circulating through the Internet. They urgently warn against using cell phone by gas stations. Currently, these emails continue to circulate, claiming cell phone usage to be the cause of fatalities in various gas station incidents around the world.

“I’ve seen signs warning against cell phones posted up against the gas pumps at Shell, so I assume they actually do pose a danger,” Melodie McColm ’04, said. “I also read a warning about explosive atmospheres in the manual that came with my Ericsson cell phone.”

Most people possess a similar attitude of indecisiveness concerning the validity of cell phone related explosions. Others hear the warning and do not heed it.

“I personally saw a video clip where a man’s engine ignites and an entire gas station explodes killing everyone nearby,” Micah Walker, ’05, said. “However, I still leave my cell phone on when I refuel since I’ve never seen any warnings against it on the news.”

It would appear that the cell phone dilemma has received the verification of some nationally recognized corporations. Shell denies issuing a public notice warning against potential cell phone sparks, while Exxon put all their 8500 gasoline stations on alert.

Exxon refuses to issue an official statement confirming cell phone explosions. They insinuated that they merely choose to play it safe by requiring “No Cell Phone” signs at all their service stations. Cell phone companies have taken a similar stand concerning the issue.

“It is rare, but your mobile phone or its accessories could generate sparks,” reads Sony Ericsson’s user manual. “Areas with a potentially explosive atmosphere are, but not always, clearly marked. They include fuelling areas ?.”

Furthermore, the Fresno City Fire Department’s response locally confirms the invalidity of a nation wide rumor.

“The fire service has no solid data on cell phones being the ignition source for gas pump fires,” Fresno Fire Chief Joel Aranaz said. “The general culprit for these types of fires is static electricity or some other form of open flame.”

Rumors of an Indonesian man who exploded also add to the confusion.

The Bangkok Post reported that an Indonesian man received severe burns from a cell phone sparked explosion; no other media organization in the world reported it. The Bangkok Post also reported that an Australian man and his vehicle burst into flames and were consumed due to a cell phone. Australian fire officials deny this ever happened.

The epicenter of these rumors is the United Kingdom.

Untied Kingdom law required the old 20-watt rent-a-cop cell phones to carry a warning against use at gas stations. While modern technology knocked the wattage down to 0.6, the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI), authority on gas related fires, demeaned the warnings as foolish rumors.

The PEI denies that they have ever confirmed a cell phone related fire and expresses doubt that such a thing has ever happened in the history of mankind.

For further information on cell phone fires, visit www.pei.org/ or www.snopes.com/.

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