CPSC report reveals another cordless drill explosion consumer complaint

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Joe Sorel, of Providence, says he was using a Chicago Electric drill when it exploded.

“It’s got a huge hole in the bottom, and I got the battery in my hand!” Joe said. “That thing blew up. It sounded just like a shotgun shell.”

Our Target 12 Consumer Investigation in November prompted a Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation into the Chicago Electric (Model 68850) cordless drill. Now, Target 12 obtained a copy of the CPSC report. It says “the battery pack appears to have 14 individual battery cells inside it. It was one of these that was ejected from the bottom of the battery pack and struck the consumer.”

The report also highlights an online review with a similar consumer complaint about the same model drill. The online reviewer wrote “the battery exploded as i was using the drill to clean my bbq grill… Luckily no injuries.”

According to the owners’ manual for the tool, which is distributed by Harbor Freight, there’s a risk of fire if the battery pack and its charger aren’t used properly. Sorel says he was following the instructions carefully, and added “There’s an angel on my shoulder!”

The CPSC report includes Sorel’s medical records, showing Sorel suffered minor injuries including tendonitis and mild hearing loss because of the explosion.

In addition to its report, the CPSC sent Target 12 a letter, which said in part, “although the commission has investigated the incident described in the investigation report, the commission has not necessarily determined the cause of the incident.”

A spokesperson for the CPSC says Harbor Freight did not respond to the agency’s notification in this case. The company is not required to respond.

Harbor Freight has not responded to Target 12’s questions following the release of the CPSC report.
During our initial investigation, the company’s Director of Quality Operations said via email ‘We take these types of matters very seriously and would like to investigate.”