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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

E-cigarette fire sparks safety warning

12/08/2014

Burn marks caused by E-cigarette
Burn marks caused by E-cigarette

Firefighters are warning people about the risks of using chargers which are incompatible with their E-cigarette following a house fire in Trentham.

"If the owners had not been alerted to the situation as quickly as they were, the fire could have rapidly spread, causing serious damage to the property at the very least and at the worst, putting lives at serious risk." 

Paul Shaw - Technical Fire Safety and Fire Investigation Lead

The family who suffered the incident contacted the Service in the wake of a death in Merseyside last Tuesday which has been linked to an E-cigarette ‘exploding’.

They want to highlight the potential risks residents can face if they use a charger which is not compatible with the electronic device.

A fire broke out in a first floor bedroom at their Stone Road property on July 17 after an E-cigarette was plugged into a travel adapter with a USB port.

The charger being used had not been purchased with the device and had come with an E-cigarette that one of the residents had previously owned.

Just 10 minutes after it had been plugged in, the upstairs smoke alarm activated and the residents went to investigate.

They were met by flames of up to 18 inches high which were next to the socket. Clothes were hanging immediately above the fire but luckily they had not been set alight.

One of the occupants, Richard McGinley, was wearing work boots and managed to stamp out the fire before it was able to spread.

He said: "This was a really frightening experience and we were very lucky that it was not more serious. The E-cigarette had been on charge for less than 10 minutes but the amount of damage that it caused when it exploded is quite shocking.

"If it hadn’t been for our first floor smoke alarm going off and alerting us to the fire, the consequences could have been far more severe and the damage might not have been limited to the floor boards and walls of the property. I would urge people to always make sure that they are using the correct charger for any device, whether it is an E-cigarette or a mobile phone."

Technical Fire Safety and Fire Investigation Lead Paul Shaw added: "This fire highlights just how vital it is to have working smoke alarms throughout your property. If the owners had not been alerted to the situation as quickly as they were, the fire could have rapidly spread, causing serious damage to the property at the very least and at the worst, putting lives at serious risk.

"It also serves as a stark reminder never to use chargers that are not compatible with the specific electrical equipment – the reaction can quite literally be explosive."

The incident follows a similar fire in Turner Avenue, Newcastle, only days earlier on July 11 when a mobile phone was being charged with an incorrect device.

None of the residents were hurt during the blaze, however, a cat, two chipmunks and a ferret sadly died.

For more information on electrical safety visit http://www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/424.asp

The Service is urging anyone who is concerned about fire safety to book a free Home Fire Risk Check.

They are available to residents of Staffordshire or Stoke-on-Trent. People can arrange for crew members or trained technicians to visit their property at a time that is convenient for them.

They will speak to residents about safety in the home and, using this information, try to identify and minimise risk from fire. If a property does not have working smoke alarms, the Service will fit them.

To book a HFRC call Freephone 0800 0241 999, text 07528 983101 or visit www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/bookyourhfrc.asp