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Stevensville woman injured when e-cigarette explodes

STEVENSVILLE — A 19-year-old Cloverfields woman was injured Friday, March 16, when her electronic cigarette exploded, catching her clothes on fire.

According to a report from the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, the woman said the device exploded as she was getting it out of her purse. She threw it away from her body, and her father helped her remove her burning clothing and extinguish the fire, the report said.

Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department responded to the woman’s home at 3 Genevieve Court shortly after 1 p.m. There were some black marks on the wall, but no fire when firefighters arrived, said KI 1st Assistant Chief Tracy Schulz.

The woman sustained first- and second-degree burns to her right arm, abdomen, and left thigh, said Deputy State Fire Marshal Brad Childress. She was taken by ambulance to Johns Hopkins Bay View Medical Center in Baltimore, where she was treated and later released.

The fire marshal’s office ruled the cause of the fire as accidental.

The lithium-ion battery exploded, Childress said, adding the brand was a Reuleaux RX200. She was using it with an Aspire Cleito 120 Electronic Cigarette.

Schulz said this was the first case he could remember KIVFD responding to that involved an electronic cigarette.

Childress didn’t know if it was the first case in Queen Anne’s County, but it was not the first case in Maryland this year.

In January, a Sykesville man was changing the batteries on his e-cigarette when it exploded, burning his chest, arms and face. He suffered burns to 18 percent of his body, according to the Fire Marshal’s Office.

A July 2017 report by the U.S. Fire Administration, “Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions in the United States 2009 – 2016,” called the combination of an e-cigarette and a lithium-ion battery “a new and unique hazard.”

Some key points of the report:

• Fires or explosions caused by the batteries used in electronic cigarette are uncommon; however the consequences can be devastating and life-altering for the victims.

• Between January 2009 and December 31, 2016, 195 separate incidents of explosion and fire involving an electronic cigarette were reported by the U.S. media. These incidents resulted in 133 acute injuries. Of these injuries, 38 (29 percent) were severe.

• To date, there have been no deaths in the United States caused by electronic cigarette fires or explosions.

More than half of the incidents happened when the device was either in a pocket or actually in use.

Childress said users should check for recalls and take safety precautions.

While e-cigarettes are not a Food and Drug Administration approved product, the FDA has offered recommendations to help avoid potential battery malfunctions:

1. Consider using vapes with safety features — such as firing button locks, vent holes and protection against overcharging.

2. Keep your vape covered – don’t let it come into contact with coins or loose batteries in your pocket.

3. Never charge your vape with a phone or tablet charger — always use the charger that came with it.

3. Don’t charge your vape overnight — or leave it charging unattended.

4. Replace the batteries if they get damaged or wet — if your vape gets damaged and the batteries are not replaceable, contact the manufacturer.

Angela Price/Bay Times