Cell phone cooks up trouble

NEW YORK When Melnikov is about two feet away from his Magic Chef stove, incoming calls on his PDA make the appliance beep. Then the digital display lights up, indicating the stove's broiler is on high. Sure enough, when he pops open the door, the burners are aflame.

It happened for the first time last week. The phone rang, and while Melnikov was talking, he smelled smoke. Thinking it was one of the other electronic devices in his Brooklyn apartment, he went around and checked them first. At that point, the kitchen was filling with smoke and Melnikov ran inside and found the cause. It was the oven, which he knew he hadn't turned on. Inside was a piece of plastic cookware that was on fire. Melnikov quickly put it out.

Melnikov remembered he was on the phone when the fire started, so he did a test on his cell and figured out what had happened.

Melnikov has had the PDA three years and says this is the first time it turned on his oven. Even still, he's shaken and says he can't sleep knowing it just might happen again. He and his wife have pet chinchillas and are thankful that Melnikov didn't leave the apartment while the oven was cooking.

For now, the stove is unplugged until needed, and Melnikov has been in touch with Maytag, the maker of the appliance. The company says it will send out a repair team to try and sort everything out.

Web produced by Maura Sweeney

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