Yet Another Exploding E-Cigarette Starts A Fire While It Was Plugged In To Charge

This used to be a couch. (WPTV.com)

This used to be a couch. (WPTV.com)

In the most recent addition to a slew of incidents where charging e-cigarettes have exploded while charging, fire investigators in Idaho say an e-cigarette plugged into a laptop overnight is to blame for a recent house fire.

It sounds a lot like stories we’ve heard before: Someone in the family had plugged the e-cigarette into a laptop to charge and went to bed. Luckily for the sleeping family, the smoke alarm went off in time for them to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, reports WPTV.com.

“If that smoke alarm didn’t go off, none of us would have woken up, you know, none of us would have been able to get to the door ‘cuz it would have been blocked by the flames and we would have all died,” said one of the family members who was home at the time.

Fire investigators say that when the e-cigarette reached its charging limit, it overheated and shot parts everywhere, including onto the furniture.

“It blew the end cap off and blew fragments off and on to the couch and ignited the couch in the house,” said the county fire marshal.

The more we catch wind of these stories, the more clear it becomes that the e-cigarette industry needs to make some important changes. Designing devices that can charge and then shut off when they’re full so they don’t overheat would work, but until manufacturers get around to doing that, never leave a charging e-cig unattended and unplug it as soon as it’s done charging.

Barring that, even a simple warning to consumers on the packaging would be the responsible thing to do. If my hair dryer tells me not to drop it into the bathtub full of water, surely companies can advise consumers how to safely operate their cigarettes.

We’ve got to wonder how many e-cigs have to explode before something changes. It’s to be hoped that that will happen sooner rather than later.

E-cigarette blamed for house fire in Idaho, electronic cigarette battery overcharged and exploded [WPTV.com]

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  1. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    my friend works as the customer service director for an e-cigarette retailer and had some insights to share about why this might happen:
    apparently the number one cause of problems with ecigarette batteries (overloads, fire, burning out the battery) is using the wrong charger. several of the batteries physically fit the same charger connection – it’s what makes the batteries and tanks compatible with each other across a few different models. unfortunately the voltage (i think?) is different depending on the battery. so if you plug a little mini battery into a rapid charger for a great big long lasting battery, you end up with something like this, or a ruined battery.
    i agree that some changes need to be made. as a person who uses these products i have noticed that the chargers do not generally have their output amperage/voltage labelled on them and if you didn’t save the manual for your battery, you probably have no idea what you are or are not supposed to plug it into.

  2. DanaG214 says:

    It’s not the e-cigarettes that are the problem, it’s the rechargeable batteries that are the problem. The batteries are prone to exploding. My husband has noticed whenever he puts a battery in his pocket with other metal objects such as keys or coins, the battery heats up until it is burning him through his pocket. This has happened a number of times.

  3. Pacer says:

    Big deal. Years ago we used to pass off exploding cigarettes. The old-fashioned real kind. And we’d put a “load” in them. We didn’t need no stinkin’ batteries.

  4. Unholy79 says:

    I’ve been vaping for 5 years and have never had a battery explode. I know it’s possible, but the likelihood is lessened by purchasing quality components. I’m very tired of seeing reports of electronic cigarettes exploding because that is nothing more than sensationalized malarkey. The cigarette portion is nothing more than a coiled wire, wick, metal casing, and fluid. The battery is the problem, be it due to cheap parts, overcharging, or abuse… lithium ion batteries can explode regardless of what they power (exploding phones, hello?). The best batteries are inexpensive and include a simple circuit that cuts off the battery when an overcharge or other problem arises. If anything, what needs to change are these no name mall kiosk brands spending an extra few cents to use protected batteries instead of unprotected fire hazards that aren’t designed to protect the users from defects or human stupidity. Lastly, some journalistic accuracy would be appreciated, it’s not the cigarette, it’s the battery.

    • Reme says:

      The problem isn’t so much the cheap batteries, if you read all these stories about e-cig batteries exploding, the person with the exploding battery always did something that the instructions warn you not to do. Leave the battery charging overnight, plug it into a computer, plug it into a car charger, or basically plug it into ANYTHING that isn’t a wall charger. People just don’t get how volatile lithium batteries can be, and the variable voltage provided by unregulated USB sources can damage them, and in some cases cause catastrophic failure.

  5. Reme says:

    This “story” is ridiculous, what happened to journalistic integrity? I used to trust what I read on Consumerist, now I’m not too sure. Let’s start with this sentence: “say an e-cigarette plugged into a laptop overnight…” OOPS. This guy made a few mistakes here, and is trying to pass the blame onto someone else so he doesn’t have to foot his bill. When you buy a battery with a USB charger, it comes with this thing called an instruction manual. In this instruction manual, there is a section titled *WARNING*

    It tells the user NOT to plug the USB charger into a computer, and NOT to leave the battery charging unattended, both of which this fool did. Now where are all the stories about all the fires regular cigarettes have caused?