Family blames iPhone for igniting fire that destroyed farmhouse
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, February 28, 2018 9:22AM EST
A B.C. couple says they may have to abandon their farm if Apple does not follow through on a promise to help them recover from a blaze that fire officials said was ignited by an iPhone.
Cathy Finley and her husband Ian said the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant offered to help them recover from the fire that devastated their home and farming business in 2016. That gesture, they say, is in limbo because Apple wants to examine the iPhone, but their insurance company does not want to release it.
“Apple wants to get their hands on the phone. My insurance company is trying to protect their interests too,” Ian told CTV Vancouver on Tuesday.
The couple said they received $600,000 from their insurance policy, but they did not cover the cost of their new home, new belongings, and lost revenue from temporarily shutting down their farm.
“We lost last year for sure. It looks very much like we will lose this year’s business too,” Ian said. “Then you lose the customer base, and a lot of that stuff that you put time and effort into as well.”
Cathy and Ian said Apple promised to “make things right.” They said they have heard nothing from the company after suggesting a $500,000 settlement. Apple told CTV Vancouver that they are looking into the claim, but have not been able to analyze the phone.
Ian feels there is no doubt that the device was to blame for the fire.
“It looked as if something had gone wrong with the phone and it caught the sofa alight, and the rest of the house from there,” he said.
Cathy said she left her iPhone charging inside the home on a leather chair on Oct. 11, 2016, before heading outside to feed her goats.
“I was there about 20 minutes,” she said. “When I came out of the goat field, I started to see smoke coming from our house.”
It took fire crews about an hour to douse the flames. The home was destroyed. Cathy’s iPhone was found burnt to a crisp.
The official report from the Township of Langley Fire Department does indicate what caused the fire, but the point of origin is listed as “cell phone on leather chair in living room,” and the source of ignition as “cell phone.”
The couple has borrowed money to work on their home and keep their business running. But without a financial lifeline from Apple, they say they will have to sell the property.
“They (Apple) made a certain kind of reassurance to us that indicated that they would make things right, in their own words,” Cathy said.
“Here we are 16, 17 months down the line, and they haven’t made it right,” said Ian.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson