A Georgia woman has invested in an e-cigarette hoping to improve her health and lifestyle, but instead she nearly lost her home when the device blew up.
Elizabeth Wilkowski, of Atlanta, plugged the Chinese-made eHit electronic cigarette into her computer to charge it up before use.
A short time later, the woman said a blast went off, rattling the walls of her Grant Park home.
Kaboom: Elizabeth Wilkowski describes the moment when her e-cigarette exploded, rattling her entire house
Scorched: The Chinese-made eHit electronic cigarette was charging in a computer USB port when it exploded
‘It wasn’t a boom, it wasn’t a pop… it was a Kaboom!’ the shaken Wilkowski recalled to the station WSB-TV. ‘I screamed… it was a real freak-out moment.’
The Atlanta resident compared the explosion to a bomb detonation, which shot 4-foot flames across her living room, scorching her couch and rug.
After overcoming her initial shock, the woman grabbed a wet wash rag to protect her hand and yanked the smoldering e-cigarette out of a USB port.
‘If I hadn’t had been home, I would have lost my dogs, I would have lost my cats, I would have lost my house,’ Wilkowski said.
Leonard Rodda, who sold Wilkowski the e-cigarette at his store, has offered to replace it for free with a different model.
‘I’ve only recently heard about that with the battery, and it’s a low voltage so I’m surprised that anything like that would happen,’ Rodda told the station.
Vapor cigarettes sold under the eHit brand are manufactured by Shenzhen Seego Technology Co. LTD, based out of Shenzhen, China.
The company unveiled the eHit model earlier this year, boasting on its website that the device is ‘using the best raw materials and craft for whole product, which is more and more popular in the market.’
The unit features ‘hollow special design for atomizer and battery,’ according to its description.
According to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA), there are currently more than 3.5million Americans puffing on the devices.
For more videos, please go to WSB TV
Burn marks: Wilkowski shows the scorched cleaning rag that she used to pluck the smoldering e-cigarette out of her computer
In a phone interview with MailOnline Tuesday, TVECA co-founder Thomas Kiklas said that from the video of the incident involving the Atlanta explosion, it appeared that the e-cigarette may have been mismatched with the charging device.
Another possible explanation could be
that Wilkowski may have left the device in the USB port for too long and it
got overcharged, according to Kiklas, who compared the smoking gadgets
to cell phones or electric toothbrushes.
WHAT ARE E-CIGARETTES?
- The devices simulate smoking by producing a safe vapor that has no odor or residue
- The battery can automatically convert nicotine liquid into the vapor when you take a drag
- They are intended to replicate real cigarettes and smokers use them as a quitting aid
The co-founder of the trade association said that since 2007, when e-cigarettes first came into use in the U.S., he has heard of only one other incident in which a device exploded.
The first case happened in Florida last February, when Tom Holloway suffered severe injuries when his e-cigarette blew up in his face, ABC News reported at the time.
The 57-year-old Vietnam War veteran and father of three had all of his teeth knocked out and lost a part of his tongue. Fire officials ruled that the blast was likely caused by a faulty battery.
Kiklas insisted that e-cigarettes have an excellent track record, with more than half-a-billion safe uses so far in the U.S. and only two reported incidents in six years.
In October, the Food and Drug Administration plans to roll out a comprehensive policy to regulate the $1billion e-cigarette business, but it is expected that the new rules would pertain mostly to nicotine levels in the devices rather than matters of fire safety.