E-cigarette explosion causes fire at Wisconsin home

By | October 3, 2013

  • New fire in Wisconsin signals a review of e-cigarette technology
  • Officials explain the root of a problem that is happening across the country
  • E-cigarette sales set to top $1 billion a year

Joel Christie

And they’re meant to be safer.

The latest in a spate of e-cigarette explosions have health and fire officials warning ‘vapers’ – as e-smokers have come to be known – that ‘healthier’ alternatives to smoking are far from danger-free.

Firefighters in the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, responded to an incident this week where an e-cigarette erupted from its charger, launching about 25 feet from the power socket to start a fire across the room, according to News8000.

E-Cigarette explodes at a home in La Crosse, Wisconsin
E-Cigarette explodes at a home in La Crosse, Wisconsin

An e-cigarette on charge overheated and exploded across the room, causing a fire at a home in La Crosse, Wisconsin, this week. No residents were injured and the flames were quickly put out

E-Cigarette explodes at a home in La Crosse, Wisconsin

E-cigarettes, which heat liquid nicotine into a smoke-like water vapor, have skyrocketed since their introduction in 2007.

Some 250 companies are producing them and there are predictions they could outsell tobacco in a decade.

While yearly sales were originally hitting $50,000, the market now looks set to top $1 billion.

Most recent estimations had 3.5 million American users.

But fire officials have warned that e-cigarette users are leaving their devices on charge too long.

Unlike other battery-operated equipment, such as cellphones, e-cigarettes don’t have an inbuilt default setting to switch off once the battery is full.

e-cigarette explosion
e-cigarette explosion

‘Those lithium-ion batteries don’t have an overcurrent protection to them, so they continue to draw on that heat  until the coil overheats and the lithium-ion actually explode in the unit,’ said La Crosse Fire Department Division Chief Craig Snyder.

The fire is the latest of many explosions that are happening across the country.

Last month, father-of-three Chris Thomas said he was ‘terrified’ when his e-cigarette exploded from his in-car charger onto the backseat, which was almost destroyed by an ensuing fire.

The flames also came dangerously close to his headrest.

e-cigarette explosion
e-cigarette explosion
A man has had a lucky escape after an electronic cigarette blew up inside his car - destroying the interior

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have said the problem with e-cigarettes is a combination of how new they are and their astonishingly fast rise in popularity.

‘As the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, consumers … have no way of knowing whether (they) are safe for their intended use,’ said FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Haliski.

Also last month, a toddler was ‘fortunate’ to escape a car fire with only minor injuries after his mother’s e-cigarette overheated and projected onto the backseat.

His mother, Kinzie Barlow, was driving in Provo, Utah, when the coil inside her device exploded out of the casing while it was on charge in the car.

The coil bounced off the ceiling and into the car seat of her son, Khonor, in the back.

‘Then there was a big bang, and kind of a flash, and there’s smoke everywhere,’ she told Salt Lake City TV station KSTU.

e-cigarette sets boy on fire
e-cigarette sets boy on fire

Khonor Barlow, 3, recieved first and second degree burns to his lower back (right) after his mother’s e-cigarette exploded in their car, landing in his baby seat.

e-cigarette sets boy on fire

Barlow attempt to smother the flames with her sleeve, but that also caught fire.

She then grabbed an iced coffee from the front seat and poured it on Khonor, putting out the fire.

The little boy received first and second-degree burns to his lower back.

Thankfully, changes have started to be made to the technology of some e-cigarettes.

Mike Swafford, who owns the E-Cig Clubhouse, said some high-end brands have recently started to make ‘overcharge protection’.

However there are plenty of cheaper ‘imitations’ available for cheaper.

‘The real eGo-T battery is made by Joytech and they are the ones with an emblem on the bottom,’ he
 told Fox.

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