PHOENIX, AZ – Jason Stine was driving on the freeway when he says his vape exploded in his pocket. The jeans he was wearing are burned, and a coin is melted into the fabric. “It was like when you light off a flare,” he told On Your Side. “It was just instantaneous, zero to a thousand.”
Stine pulled over to the side of the road and tried to pat out the flames. “I scooped up the ice cream in my hands and used the ice cream to put the fire out,” he said. “It burned everything. My seat. My vehicle. The key fob is charred. My seat is charred. Part of the steering column is charred. The steering wheel is charred. It was a hot fire, and like I said, I couldn’t get it out at first. I remember thinking, ‘Crap, I need a fire extinguisher. Of course, I didn’t have one, so ice cream was the next best bet.”
Vape explosions are rare, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but they do happen. According to one study, from 2015 through 2017, there were 2,035 ER visits for e-cigarette explosions and burn injuries. “Of course, the minute you have battery-operated products, there is definitely an elevated risk,” said Ashita Kapoor, the associate director of product safety at Consumer Reports.
Investigations into safety issues are ongoing. “This has become a multi-billion-dollar industry over the past few years, so concerns related to safety is something that we’re definitely going to see as volume of these products increase,” Kapoor said. “Number one, you want to make sure that you’re not leaving this thing to charge for long periods of time. Number two, you want to definitely follow the manufacturer’s instructions for battery replacement, disposal of batteries as well, and not using different brands or using one new and one old. You don’t want to be doing any mixing when it comes to the batteries.”
The FDA says it’s also important to charge the device on a clean, flat surface away from flammable things like pillows and couches. E-cigarettes should also be protected from extreme temperatures, the agency said. Never leave a vape in direct sunlight or in a hot car.
Jason’s burns are severe. He was in the hospital for more than a week. “The whole back of my leg is skin grafts, so it’s all hamburgered up,” Stine said. “Just sitting here talking to you, I’m in an extreme amount of pain. It’s excruciating.” Jason has no idea what caused his vape to explode. He says it was fairly new and he was using it properly. “I never thought that that day when I was leaving that something like this was going to happen. It never even crossed my mind,” he said. “I want people to know this happens.”
Call (602) 254-6071 to talk with an Arizona personal injury attorney if you or a loved one has been injured by an exploding battery.