EXPERT: Mishandling electronic cigarettes makes them more prone to explosions

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-12 22:27:28-04

A woman suffered second-degree burns to her legs and multiple broken bones after her electronic cigarette exploded.

The incident happened Tuesday near McClintock Rural Road and Southern Avenue.

The 20-year-old woman told police she was backing out of a driveway when her e-cigarette exploded in her lap igniting a fire. She jumped out of her truck to put out the flames but her truck jumped a curb and hit a tree.

According to Tempe police, after the woman jumped out of her truck it ran over her legs and broke both her hips. She remains hospitalized due to her injuries.

"Unfortunately the fire kept spreading," a Tempe police spokesperson said. "It burnt off almost all of her pants. The pain got so much for her she actually dove out of the truck. When the driver jumped out of the vehicle the vehicle actually ran over her. She ended up breaking both hips."

E-cigarettes have grown in popularity in recent years and cases of them exploding aren’t too uncommon. However, a spokesperson for Butt Out, a store that sells vaporizer products in Tempe, said explosions are typically due to “user error.”

Manager Eli Kaczka e-cigarette batteries can catch fire if they’re mishandled. He explained that the shop warns all of its customers that batteries in vaporizers and e-cigs can be very dangerous.

“You never want to put the batteries with your keys or change,” Kaczka said. He also explained that if they’re scratched, nicked or dented they’re more prone to explosions.

It’s also important to buy batteries that are made by reliable brands (like Samsung, LG and Sony), Kaczka said. Cheap knock-offs are more likely to go up in smoke.

“Those ones can sometimes be the unsafe ones because they’re the B- or C-rated cells from the companies that didn’t pass the manufacturer standards that they were looking for,” he said.

However, it’s still unclear what caused the woman’s e-cigarette to explode. Her name hasn’t been released and it’s unknown if charges were filed against her.