E-cigarette explosion seriously injures Sonoma County man

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. -- A Sonoma County construction worker suffered third-degree burns on his leg after his e-cigarette's spare battery exploded in his pocket last month.

Jason Clar, 42, doesn't know when he'll be able to return to work or to ride his motorcycle again. He has had two skin graft surgeries and is in constant pain.

Clar showed the I-Team's Dan Noyes the heavy construction pants he was wearing at the time, now with a hole and char marks. Clar said, "The damage was done, and all the skin on the back of my leg was missing, so I went to the emergency room as fast as I could."

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The latest figures available from the Food and Drug Administration show that e-cigarette explosions are soaring in recent years. Between 2015 and 2017, 2,035 people went to the hospital with injuries from the blasts, ranging from burns to the face, leg and hands to loss of body parts, and even death.

A 38-year-old television producer died in May 2018 when his vape exploded. The FDA is working on new safety standards, especially for the type of vaporizers called "mods" that use the removable and rechargeable batteries.

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Forensic engineer Glen Stevick from Berkeley Engineering and research explains that, with the removable batteries, the plastic can we work so the positive terminal becomes exposed to the negative terminal. That may result in a short circuit and explosion.

The vaping industry says consumers should follow guidelines on charging the batteries and wrap them in protective sleeves when out of the unit.

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