Fire chiefs are warning of the dangers of electronic cigarettes after one exploded while being charged up at a house in Batley.
While the dangers of lit cigarettes are well known, firefighters are now issuing stark warnings that the battery powered electronic versions have also caused blazes and claimed at least one life.
The Batley incident occurred after an e-cigarette had been plugged into the USB port of a laptop – according to the instructions. But after around 10 minutes there was a yellow flash and loud bang as it exploded, shooting burning fragments across the living room, burning the carpet and leaving scorch marks on the settee and wall.
Fire investigation officer for the West Yorkshire Fire Service Sean Fearon said: “The owner of the e-cigarette in this case had followed the instructions.
“However a lot of research is going on nationally into the potential problems surrounding e-cigarettes and the initial indications seem to point towards incorrect charging rather than faulty products.
“I imagine that some people have got e-cigarettes as Christmas gifts and I advise users to follow the correct safety tips.”
Advice includes: only use the charger supplied with the kit; don’t mix and match components from different e-cig manufacturers; never overtighten a battery on to the charger – plug the charger in first, then gently screw the battery in until the light flashes and then stop; never leave them unattended while charging; clean the battery pin and charger contact at least once a week with tissue or alcohol wipes; and remove the battery from the charger when fully charged.
The most serious incident outside of the West Yorkshire area was in October, and resulted in a fatality in Derbyshire, when components from different e-cigarettes were used with a wrong charger.