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E-Cigarette Starts Fire/Panic at Airport

If you believe the hype from the vape industry, e-cigarettes don’t explode; and if they do, it is a rarity caused by the user. This story has been disproved time and again. 

What the vaping industry doesn’t tell you is that when an e-cigarette does catch on fire (as we often see in the news), the consequences can be severe and life-altering.

Picture Denver International Airport (DIA), January 30, 2018. DIA reported a record number of passengers in 2017, servicing nearly 53 million people; up to 19,000 per day. Now picture a crowded security line. This was the scene when a passenger bag that had just passed the x-ray machine burst into flames. The fire sent people running and shut down security scanning and inter-terminal train service for an unspecified time. Luckily airport personnel were able to extinguish the flames with a nearby fire extinguisher.

The cause of the fire and ensuing panic? An e-cigarette.

Fire investigators determined the device’s exposed battery came in contact with combustible materials in the bag and ignited—in the middle of a crowded airport terminal. That fire could instead started on the plane where panic, and the possibility of toxic fumes and high temperatures would put passengers at risk, as well as force the plane to perform an emergency landing.

In May 2016, the U.S. Transportation Department banned E-cigarettes in checked luggage, but to date still allow them in carry-on luggage. The passenger unwittingly put the device in their carry-on bag, thinking it was safe. It wasn’t.

This passenger and the people nearby were lucky. If (s)he had been carrying the bag when the e-cigarette started the fire, (s)he could have been severely injured.

In a 2017 report on e-cigarette fires and explosions, the U.S. Fire Administration stated that 29% of injuries from e-cigarette fires and explosions result in severe injuries. Typical e-cigarette fire injuries include heat and chemical burns that require months or years of burn therapy, extensive skin and/or bone graphs, and psychological distress. Serious burns must be debrided, i.e., when dead flesh and foreign items are removed with enzymes, water, or sharp instruments to prevent life-threatening infections and gangrene. Areas surrounding severely damaged areas, and less-severe burns, require meticulous application and changing of specialized bandages over time to help the skin heal and further prevent infection.

Rather than believe the vaping industry hype, people who use e-cigarette devices should instead be wary. The U.S. Fire Administration declared the “e-cigarette/lithium-ion battery combination presents a new and unique hazard to consumers,” and that use can result in severe physical damage if the device starts on fire or explodes.

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About this Author

Domenic B. Sanginiti, Jr, Stark Law, Personal Injury Lawyer, Civil Litigation Attorney
Shareholder

Domenic B. Sanginiti, Jr. is an associate and member of the Accident & Personal Injury Group. He concentrates his practice in personal injuries arising from automobile, truck and motorcycle accidents, in addition to personal injuries claims resulting from slip and fall accidents and various other civil litigation matters.

Prior to joining Stark & Stark, Mr. Sanginiti, Jr. practiced personal injury for two South-Jersey law firms, where he defended casinos against personal injury claims, as well as defending health insurance carries against claims for benefits under ERISA.  He...

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