A New Jersey woman said it’s important for people to be aware of what can happen to e-cigarettes even when they aren’t being used or charged after her own device exploded inside her purse while she was shopping.
Surveillance video from inside a Sunglass Hut at Freehold Raceway in Freehold, N.J., shows Mara McInerney paying at the register when black smoke and flames shoot out of her Louis Vuitton bag on the counter.
Ms. McInerney told News 12 New Jersey that she heard a pop that sounded like a gunshot, which made her think that some kind of terrorist attack might be underway considering the incident happened on the afternoon of 9/11. Others in the store may have had similar thoughts as surveillance video shows them fleeing the scene.
“I had the battery in this pocket by itself. It exploded through the pocket, charred and melted everything in the bag,” Ms. McInerney told News 12. .
Ms. McInerney, a single mom, was uninjured but she told News 12 that she wants to be reimbursed for the bag and its contents. She showed the charred bag to News 12 and said that she hopes it will make more people aware of what can happen with the electronic devices.
“Just knowing I have my bag in the backseat, daughter in the car seat next to it, it’s scary and it could happen to everyone,” Mcinerney told News 12.
More than 95 percent of e-cigarettes and similar electronic devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are prone to overheat and catch fire. Manufacturing defects, using a charger other than the one packaged with the device, and contact with other metal objects such as coins can increase risk.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “e-cigarettes are different from other electronic consumer devices because the battery is installed in a cylindrical device that has its weakest (structural) point at the ends. When the battery seal (at the end of the battery) ruptures, the pressure within the e-cigarette cylinder builds quickly and instantly ruptures, usually at the end. As a result of the battery and container failure, one or the other, or both, can be propelled across the room like a bullet or small rocket.”