Monday, July 8 2013, 10:48 PM MDT
E-Cig Batteries Explode Damaging Car, Home
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Cindy St. Clair
Photography by Randy Likness and Jay Hancock
Edited by Aaron Colborn
(KUTV) Rick Epp says that quitting smoking means saving his life.
"I've had a lot of lung surgery,” he said. “I have chronic emphysema and if I don't quit I'm going to die."
A smoker for 30 years, Rick says electronic cigarettes helped him cut smoking down from three packs a day to one pack a week.
But only six days after purchasing an e-cigarette called ‘The Tank,’ something went horribly wrong when Rick tried to charge the device. It exploded catching his living room on fire. Rick was able to extinguish the flames before the fire could spread.
Krisy Hernandez had a similar experience with her The Tank e-cigarette. It caught fire while charging in her car.
“There was a flame,” Krisy remembers. “I had to hurry and grab it and throw it out of my car. It burnt my fingers."
Krisy says the explosion did around $6,000 to her car. She contacted The Tank manufacturer S.N.I. National but they refused to pay more than $4,300. In an email from S.N.I. National, the company blames Krisy, saying that the explosion happened because "the charger used was not the one intended for this product."
Krisy insists she was using the cord that came with the e-cigarettes.
On Youtube.com, Get Gephardt found numerous video accounts of people showing exploded e-cigarettes, though many don't identify the brand. The issue, perhaps, is with the lithium batteries.
Get Gephardt also contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission but the federal agency in charge of recalls said they had no reports of exploding e-cigarettes.
Get Gephardt also contacted S.N.I. National. In an unsigned email, the company maintains that in both cases, Krisy and Rick used chargers that were not S.N.I. National products. They say doing so "create[d] an over heat issue." The email says Rick and Krisy should have read their owners manuals.
On the outside packaging is a warning that reads, “Use only the charger supplied with the unit, improper charging may cause the battery to explode."
In the meantime, after Get Gephardt contacted S.N.I. National, they seem to have had a change of heart regarding the damage to Krisy’s car and agreed to send her a check for $6000 covering all of the damage.
As for Rick, he says he still has never heard back from S.N.I. National and paid to repair the damage to his living room out of his own pocket.
Other news outlets and uploaded YouTube videos show that the explosion issue is not isolated to the S.N.I. National brand or The Tank e-cigarette.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)