Family seeks additional $600,000 from Apple above insurance payment after blaming iPhone charging cable for house fire

By Malcolm Owen

A family in British Columbia has demanded Apple pay it $600,000 to help cover uninsured losses endured from a farmhouse fire in October 2016, one claimed to have been started by an overheating cable used to charge an iPhone 6.

Remains of iPhone charging cable, from the Township of Langley Fire Department Field Report

Cathy and Ian Finley of Langley, B.C. were forced to close their farm business after the late-2016 house fire, which they blame on the cable and the three-month-old iPhone 6, which was left charging in their living room, reports CBC. Cathy Finley advises it was charging unattended, as she plugged it in before leaving the building to feed goats, later spotting the house on fire.

On arriving back to the house, the fire was too large to get neat to the structure, forcing Mrs. Finley to go to a neighbor for assistance.

There has yet to be an official determination for what caused the fire, but officials investigating the blaze found the iPhone charger and cable in the building's remains. A report from the investigators states "it would appear that the phone or charger generated enough heat to ignite" a chair at the point of ignition.

The farm business previously provided sustainable farming tours and hosted kids camps, as well as providing food and other services to the local community. Following the fire, the family claim they were too overwhelmed to continue operating their vegetable delivery program, refunding customers who could not be provided the service, as well as cancelling plans for celebrity chef dinners and school tours.

The family started to build a new home on the site in August 2017, but despite working to dig trenches and divert power and water, Mrs. Finley worries there are not enough financial resources to complete the construction. "We might lose this house that we are building with our own hands," she suggests.

So far, the family has received an insurance payout of $600,000, but this reportedly did not cover all costs. It is claimed the uninsured losses, including loss of revenue from the farm and tour business, building costs, and mediation, total another $600,000, which the family wants Apple to pay.

Mrs. Finley started to ask Apple for help since February 2017, but says she has failed to get anywhere with the company after multiple conversations with Apple's case worker. The Finleys claim that an adversarial relationship has erupted between the insurers, The Co-operators, and Apple regarding the incident, with Apple refusing to engage further until it gets an opportunity to examine the iPhone and charging gear that is currently being held by a third-party forensics company.

After a year of communicating directly with Apple and not getting a result, the family has since turned to taking Apple to task in public to try and get a satisfactory result. The attention-getting methods include a petition that is said to have hit 1,700 signatures within a few days of launch, and at the time of publication has exceeded 2,300 signees, as well as some interest from Facebook users.

Apple has yet to publicly comment on the affair, but did confirm to the CBC that it was looking into the couple's situation.