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Dallas Teen’s Smartphone Catches Fire And The Story Goes Viral


Five stories that have North Texas talking: a Dallas teen’s smartphone catches fire; a huge tortoise escapes and wanders to White Rock Lake; Tori Amos performs tonight in Dallas; and more.

  A Dallas teen learned that she shouldn’t keep her smartphone under her pillow. Ariel Tolfree’s phone sparked a fire while she was sleeping. KDFW-TV reports that Ariel’s Samsung Galaxy S4 “slipped under her pillow as she fell asleep, and the smell of something burning woke her up in the night.” Ariel, who’s 13, wasn’t hurt, but her phone was destroyed – and the mattress was ruined. WFAA-TV reports: “At least one major phone company warns customers that leaving their smartphones under bedding may cause a fire or even an explosion. ... Lithium-ion batteries are used in many products, from phones to tablets. They can overheat, sometimes reaching 350 degrees.” The KDFW video has gone viral, with more than 1.4 million views on YouTube. The Poynter Institute, which studies media, explains why the video is getting so many views. Here’s the video:

  • Over the weekend, a huge Sulcata tortoise was found hanging out near White Rock Lake. Soon, it was hanging out at Dallas Animal Services. The facility posted a picture of the turtle on its Facebook page, hoping to find the owner. Sulcata tortoises, which can live up to 150 years and weigh up to 200 pounds, are not native to Texas and are usually found in western Africa, the Dallas shelter says. Animal Services gave the owner 72 hours to claim the turtle, saying it had found a rescue group to take it. But the owner ended up contacting the animal shelter. The turtle dug its way out of the yard while the family was on vacation. The owner posted a note on the Animal Services Facebook page to explain what happened. Kimberly Jones says she moved into a new house and was building a stronger fence – but the turtle, named Zack Morris, dug under the current fence. “They can be quite the escape artists!” Jones wrote. A reunion is scheduled for Tuesday.

  • SMU sold about $350,000 in beer and wine at basketball games this season. The Dallas Morning News reports that beer and wine were sold at 13 men’s basketball games – beer was $6 or $8 and the wine was $6. SMU plans to sell beer in Ford Stadium concourses starting Sept. 20 – alcoholic beverages have been limited to stadium suites, The News reports. The University of North Texas has announced it will sell beer at its football stadium this fall.

  • A company is proposing to build a shelter for unaccompanied children near El Paso. The Abraham Lincoln Transitional Lodge would become the largest permanent shelter for migrant children in the United States, The Houston Chronicle reports. It would be more than 10 times larger than the biggest state-licensed facility in Texas, the newspaper says. “With 3,500 beds, it would eclipse by threefold the population of this predominantly Hispanic cotton and pecan-farming town,” the Chronicle reports. “With this proposal, the 2-square-mile town is likely to become a focal point in the debate over how the government plans to deal with the record-breaking influx of children from Central America caught crossing the border illegally.” Dallas County has plans to shelter 2,000 of the migrant children.

  • Tori Amos performs tonight at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. She spoke with the Dallas Observer about turning 50 and how she wasn’t intentionally building a record as she created her most recent album, Unrepentant Geraldines. “I think being 50 has been a huge inspiration, but I had to get there,” Amos told the Observer. “I needed to embrace it and I needed to realize a few things. There's no excuse for not being on top of my game. It's an opportunity to be really sharp. Also, it's an opportunity to listen and learn from other people. I think it is an amazing age.” The concert is at 7:30 p.m.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.