A lithium battery for an e-cigarette exploded inside a woman’s purse during a Boulder City, Nevada, city council meeting Aug. 8, sending alarmed bystanders running.
Video footage taken at the city council meeting focuses on a speaker at the podium when a woman seated in the background jumps as her purse shoots fire and smoke. She appears to throw the purse to her right, prompting others to flee the scene.
According to FOX 5 Las Vegas, the purse landed on the floor, burning the carpet and leaving burn marks on the sidewalk outside.
“I just knew something was wrong. I saw the smoke and said: ‘That’s not right,'” Boulder City Fire Chief Kevin Nicholson told FOX 5. “It was an exciting and unique evening.”
The woman was fortunate that the exploding lithium battery was in her purse, which helped to contain the fire long enough for her to get away. She suffered only minor burns to her leg and did not require hospitalization.
The Boulder City Fire Department was able to extinguish the fire and the meeting continued.
KTNV Action News Las Vegas reported that it spoke to the woman off camera. She said the battery that exploded was a spare for her e-cigarette. Video of the incident shows the type of explosions associated with rechargeable lithium batteries that are used in e-cigarettes and a multitude of other consumer electronics.
Spare lithium batteries are at risk of exploding when thrown into a pocket or purse where they may come into contact with metal objects, such as coins, paper clips, and other spare batteries. This accidental contact forms a circuit that may result in overheating, fire, smoke, and explosion. Poorly manufactured or damaged batteries can burst into flames on their own.
“You do need to be careful what you do put in your purse, and I know a lot of people like to bring a lot of things with them,” Chief Nicholson told FOX 5, adding that people follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for properly storing batteries.