A rare e-cigarette malfunction sent a Fresno man to the hospital on Wednesday when the device he had placed in his pocket appeared to explode in flames on a bus.
At around 1 p.m., the 53-year-old man was riding a FAX bus and using his e-cigarette, when the bus driver told him to stop, according to witnesses cited by the Fresno Bee. The man complied and put his device away in his pocket. Video of the incident shows the man looking down just before smoke and sparks erupt from his pants. The man rises, and more flaring light appears from the pocket area as he falls back across the seat.
As the flare subsides the man gets back up with smoke in the air around him. The video shows him go toward the front of the bus and out of the frame. The witnesses later described the man jumping up and screaming.
Firefighters were called to the scene and treated the man for minor burns sustained to his right thigh and hand, according to KSEE News. American Ambulance transported the man to Community Regional Medical Center.
A spokesman for the Fresno Fire Department described the man as conscious and alert as he received treatment at the hospital, according to the Bee.
An October 2014 U.S. Fire Administration report entitled “Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions” estimated that more than 2.5 million Americans use e-cigarettes. That report stated, “Fires or explosions caused by e-cigarettes are rare.”
Just 25 incidents of e-cigarette explosion and fire were recorded in the over five years from 2009 to August 2014, according to the Fire Administration report. Only nine of those resulted in injury and just two of those incidents resulted in serious burns. Many of the malfunctions have occurred while devices were charging. The report emphasized, “Using power sources not approved by the manufacturer to recharge a lithium-ion battery can result in an explosion and fire.”
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