911 Caller Says Electronic Cigarette “Blew Up in My Hand”

A man told emergency services he was injured when a modified electronic cigarette he was smoking blew up in his hand during the early morning hours of Tuesday.

"As I was taking a second drag, it made a noise," said Chris d, who did not want to use his last name. "Within a couple of seconds of it making a noise I pulled it away from my lips and that's when it exploded."

His face and hands were burned, one of his hands required two stitches. Small fires also started after the 1:30 a.m. explosion in the bedroom of his apartment in the 100 block of East MacArthur Boulevard in Santa Ana.

"I'm freaking out. I just had an electronic cigarette blow up in my hand... it's stuck in the wall... it caught on fire... it blew up in my face," he told the 911 dispatcher.

He purchased the modified parts of the e-cigarette from different manufacturers.

Chris feels lucky to be alive, "cause that thing would have killed me for sure," he said.

Last month, an Anaheim teen was hospitalized after his electronic cigarette exploded. His hand was badly burned in the explosion, which his girlfriend described as sounding like a gun going off.

Dele Ogunseitan, the head of UC Irvine's public health program, said unlike laptop batteries, e-cigarette batteries do not have protective casings, so there is no way to contain an overheated or overcharged battery.

"The lithium ion battery is the risk for fire in these things, because they have a well-known flammable electrolyte that will catch on fire when it boils over," he said.

E-cigarettes were designed to wean smokers off nicotine. The oils used are regulated by the FDA, but not the electronics.

Chris, who said he has been vaping for six years, said he plans to quit smoking and warn others of the dangers modified e-cigarettes possibly pose.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Dele Ogunseitan's name.

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