Fire Explosions Linked to E-Cigarettes Spark Safety Concerns

A Kentucky man is recovering from second-degree burns after he says an electronic cigarette battery exploded in his pocket.
A Kentucky man is recovering from second-degree burns after he says an electronic cigarette battery exploded in his pocket.

A Kentucky man is recovering from second-degree burns after he says an electronic cigarette battery exploded in his pocket.

Surveillance footage captured the moment Josh Hamilton’s pants suddenly burst into flames at a Kentucky gas station Saturday. He runs outside, struggling to ditch his clothes, before a man douses him with a fire extinguisher.

Evan Spahlinger was placed in a medically-induced coma for three days at a Miami hospital, after he says an e-cigarette blew up in his mouth in October.

“There’s an alternative to smoking cigarettes. It’s supposed to be a safer and a healthier way of doing it,” Spahlinger said.

And earlier this week, an Ohio fire department issued a warning on its Facebook page after a rechargeable e-cigarette battery apparently exploded inside the pocket of a victim’s lab coat.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, people reported more than two dozen incidents of explosions and fires caused by e-cigarettes between 2009 and 2014.

“It has the same fuel capability as gasoline,” said Venkat Viswanathan, a mechanical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Many are linked to the vaporizer’s lithium-ion battery. Overcharging, manufacturing defects and punctures can cause it to overheat, triggering an explosion.

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