Authorities Warn Of The Dangers Of E-Cigarettes' Exploding Batteries

Frightening new videos show what can happen when the batteries catch fire.

In a chilling video published by the U.K.’s ITV Wednesday, smoke suddenly starts streaming from a man’s jacket pocket while he’s talking to a friend next to a baby buggy in a shopping mall in Leeds, England.

Sparks then fly when e-cigarette batteries explode in his pocket, and he flees out of camera range of the CCTV video, apparently not understanding that the danger is coming from him.

Fortunately, the man suffered only slight injuries and no one else was hurt. The explosion occurred when spare batteries that he was carrying in his pocket came in contact with something metal, like a coin, or simply bumped against each other, according to the West Yorkshire Fire Service, which recently released the September video as a warning.

“This is not the first time we have seen injuries caused by a lithium-ion battery exploding while being carried in someone’s pocket. We really want the public to understand the risks which can be easily avoided,” fire department spokesman Jamie Lister told ITV. “There does not need to be a fault with the battery, the problem is the incorrect storage of the batteries.” 

Results were more serious Wednesday on a Fresno city bus in California, when a man suffered third-degree burns on his hand and thigh when his e-cigarette exploded. In that incident, captured on a surveillance camera on the bus, the 53-year-old man put the cigarette into his pocket before it smoked, sparked and exploded. The man screamed for help and was rushed to a local hospital, the Fresno Bee reported.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently branded the batteries a “ticking time bomb” in the wake of several such incidents, and called on the federal government to consider a recall of the batteries.

Industry representatives have said the batteries are safe when used properly. The Food and Drug Administration has said it’s reviewing the e-cigarettes and batteries, the Associated Press reported.