E-cigarette explosion only second known case, trade group says

An 18-year-old man was injured in Kitchener's west end Monday evening after an e-cigarette exploded. A director with the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada says there are a number of reasons why that may have happened.

18-year-old man injured Monday night in Kitchener after device malfunctioned

A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette. On Monday night in Kitchener, an 18-year-old man was injured when an e-cigarette exploded while he was in a car with friends. The car caught fire. The man was taken to hospital. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

An exploding e-cigarette that caused a car fire in Kitchener's west end Monday evening is a rare occurrence, a Canadian trade group says.

"This is the second one that we have heard of in Canada," John Haste, a director with the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada told CBC News in an email.

"There was one incident that we are aware of in Lethbridge, the first we had heard of in Canada which appeared to involve a mechanical mod device," he said, explaining a mechanical mod device is one without, or with very limited, safety circuits that requires advanced knowledge to be used safely and properly.

"We would not recommend that anyone select that type of device as their first electronic cigarette," he said.

Alberta teen injured

In January, Lethbridge, Alta., father Perry Greer sent photos of his 16-year-old son, Ty, to media outlets after the e-cigarette he was smoking exploded in his face, resulting in burns.

Ty Greer, 16, of Lethbridge, Alta., is shown in this handout image provided by his father Perry Greer. Greer said his son was using an e-cigarette in January when it exploded. (Canadian Press)

"It lit my kid's face on fire, busted two teeth out," Perry Greer said. "It burned the back of his throat, burned his tongue very badly. If he wasn't wearing glasses, he possibly could have lost his eyes."

Perry Greer said his son was in a lot of pain as they drove to the hospital where Ty was treated for first- and second-degree burns. He said it was unclear why the device exploded and he called for a ban on the sale of unregulated e-cigarettes.

Battery explodes, not cigarette

Haste said he has not heard any details about the device that malfunctioned on Snowdrop Crescent in Kitchener Monday night. An 18-year-old man was taken to hospital with injuries after witnesses told police the e-cigarette he was holding exploded around 6:30 p.m., which in turn set the car ablaze.

Haste said it is unclear if the device involved in Monday's car fire was perhaps old, damaged or mishandled, which can often cause the lithium-ion batteries in the devices to malfunction.

"It's important to realize that this is not unique to electronic cigarettes and it's not the electronic cigarette that explodes, it's the battery," Haste said. "This happens with cell phones, laptops, power tools and any other electronics with Li-Ion batteries. We just don't see those in the news because they aren't the big story right now."


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