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Topic - Alpkit Gamma shorting out?

I've 'got a lotta love' for Alpkit( http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2012/06/alpkit-in-operation-kayak-touring-in.html ), so this isn't meant as a moan. I've had my Gamma a good few years now and it has worked flawlessly over quite a lot of use. It spent one winter tied to my bike helmet, rain, sleet, snow, -20. No problems. So I have without doubt had my money's worth from it, but it went wrong in a moderately spectacular way this week and I wonder if anyone else has seen similar.

I lent it to my son for his cubs outside meet this week, he came home reporting it had "broken" (kids, don't you just luv 'em and their ability to break all your stuff?). It had new batteries in it so I knew that wasn't the issue. On taking the batteries out (just normal IKEA alkalines) on one there is a noticeable black scorch mark and all three the yellow plastic around the batteries had shrunk exposing some of the metal. I've not seen this before, but can only imagine that it was sudden heat to make the plastic shrivel like that? So a short circuit? There is also some kind of residue or discolouration inside the battery box - again I don't think it was there before. So it seems like something exciting happened in there.

The connections seem damaged but not totally blown now, as it still works sometimes but with a tendency to turn itself off and on in an unhelpful manner. I know lots of people have broken their Gammas physically, but has anyone else seen this? I was wondering if the batteries could have been the problem or something in the battery case that made it short?
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