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Man suffers burns after e-cigarette explodes in his pocket

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – A Valley man is recovering at the burn center after his e-cigarette exploded in his pocket.

On Monday, Lori KImmel says her husband was walking up to a Wendy’s near Frank Lloyd Wright and the Loop 101.

He had just climbed out of his truck when he felt his leg start to get warm. He looked down to see sparks flying from the bottom of his shorts and felt the excruciating pain of his skin burning.

Since then Kimmel has had a few surgeries and fought off an infection. His wife tells ABC15 she never imagined something like this would ever happen to her family.

“It is absolutely real..that these things catch on fire spontaneously,” she said. “Forty percent of his leg has second- and third-degree burns.”

The device Kimmel used was made by Kangertech, a company based out of China. We reached out to the company for comment but did not hear back.

John Brewer with Brewer Law Firm is representing Kimmel and says the same company made a device that also exploded in the pocket of a Goodyear man at a cellphone store in 2016. The law firm is also representing that man in that case.

Brewer says these companies aren’t very well regulated and the devices aren’t manufactured well.

“It should be regulated on a national scale, I think,” he said.

The FDA says that if you do have any problems with an e-cigarette report it to them so they can evaluate for potential health and safety risks. Federal health officials also have guidelines for how to use e-cigarettes safely. Among the recommendations are:

  • When purchasing a device, make sure that it is one that has safety features.
  • Replace a battery that is damaged or wet.
  • Never use a cellphone or tablet charger and never charge it overnight.

Kimmel has a long road to recovery but is fairing well. His wife says he was using his e-cig to help him quite smoking. She hopes this unintentional light up will help him quit for good.

“It was really scary. It was — seeing black and red and white skin, it was really…it was kind of surreal,” she said.

Aldo Vazquez/ABC15