A man eating at a Bay City, Mich., restaurant was severely burned when his e-cigarette overheated and exploded in his pants pocket.
According to MLive, the 27-year-old man was dining on the patio of Tavern 101 Restaurant July 2 when his e-cigarette device spontaneously combusted.
Bay City Public Safety Deputy Director Thomas Pletzke told MLive that the e-cigarette “went off” in the man’s pants “for some unknown reason.”
A restaurant employee said that the man took off running and other people took off after him. Others in the restaurant at the time called 911 and helped the man out of his pants. Tavern 101 employee Chelsey Dobyne told MLive that the man’s leg “looked like a burned marshmallow.”
“It was really bad,” she said, adding that the man had a larger, box-shaped e-cigarette and that it was lying in pieces all over the floor after the explosion.
More than two dozen cases of e-cigarettes and similar devices catching fire and exploding across the U.S. have been reported by the media from 2009 to 2014. A steep surge in the popularity of e-cigarettes over the last couple of years, however, has meant that stories of fires, explosions, and injuries have become more frequent.
While most of these incidents occur while the devices are charging, it is not uncommon for them to explode in a user’s pocket or elsewhere.
In December, another Michigan man suffered second- and third-degree burns when coins in the same pocket as his e-cigarette caused a short in the device’s lithium-ion battery.
The Grand Rapids man told Fox 17 News West Michigan that he was changing his son’s diaper when he felt the device getting warmer and warmer in his pocket, but by the time he went to take his pants off it had already started flaring.
“The tobacco company will tell you it causes lung cancer but the [e-cigarette] store ain’t gonna tell you, you could lose your hand, lose your face, or lose half your leg,” the man told Fox 17 News. “I couldn’t wash my leg right off cause I would have washed all my skin off. I thought it was safer to [use e-cigarettes] over cigarettes. But I tell you what, I’d rather have lung cancer than almost losing my leg.”
In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed new regulations for e-cigarettes, which until then had gone completely unregulated. However, the new FDA rules do not set safety standards for the batteries or electronics used in the devices.