New danger from e-cigarettes: Exploding batteries

Published: Dec. 21, 2017 at 5:17 PM EST
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(12/21/2017) - A Saginaw County man was badly burned after the batteries in his e-cigarette exploded in his pants pocket.

"Just out of nowhere, it exploded in my pocket and there is a big flame," said Michael Perez.

Exploding lithium ion batteries in cell phones, laptops and hoverboards have been in the news for the past few years. They've been doing it in e-cigarettes as well and it happened to a Saginaw County man this week.

"I was in shock really," Perez said. "Just when I look at it, I was just in shock at how gruesome it looked."

He was at work in Davison when it happened.

"It was a large phoosh and there was a giant flame that was like a fireball out of my pocket -- like a firework going off," Perez said.

He attempted to get it out of his pocket.

"I tried to shake it out of my pant leg and I couldn't," Perez said. "I tried to grab it, couldn't, so I just had to rip my jeans."

The explosion and fire burned a hole right through his pants. Co-workers rushed him to the hospital.

"Burning, immense pain, where I almost went into shock," Perez said. "It's mainly all second-degree burns, with some third-degree spots."

He wasn't a full-time smoker when he decided to try the e-cigarette a year ago.

"They claim to be a healthier choice without all the extra chemicals added and everything," Perez said.

Not much was left of his e-cigarette. They use cartridges filled with a liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. A heating device converts the liquid into a vapor, which is inhaled.

Perez said he replaced the two lithium ion batteries three months ago, had nothing else in his pocket when the explosion happened and has never had a problem with the e-cigarette.

"I have no clue why it happened," he said.

Perez is still in a lot of pain and will most likely miss a month of work. But he knows this could have been worse.

"If I was actually using it and it exploded, it would have exploded in my face," Perez said.

He's done smoking and now done with e-cigarettes.

"Stay away from it, its not worth it," Perez said.

Representatives for the company that manufactured Perez's e-cigarette could not be reached for comment.