E-cig battery explodes in man's pocket

Image 1 of 3

A Splendora man is badly burned when the battery to his electronic cigarette exploded in his pants. Not only did his leg catch on fire, but so did part of the vehicle he was driving. 

“You can see where it had melted into the flesh,” said 22-year-old Ray Emanus as he pointed to the large first degree burn on his left leg.  “It hurt. I really had no idea what was going on,” he said.  “Literally, as you can tell, it looks like a torch was stuck to my leg.”

It was actually this battery for his electronic cigarette vaporizer that exploded in his pants pocket.  Complicating an already scary situation, he was driving with co-workers in a rental vehicle at the time on The North Freeway. 

“Out of nowhere my pocket, it sounded like a CO2 cartridge spewing out, right.  Within seconds, I looked down and just a ball of fire basically in my pocket had melted my pants to my leg," said Emanus.

Next, the floorboard caught on fire before Emanus pulled over and kicked the burning battery out of the vehicle.  He went to the hospital wearing nothing but his charred underwear. 

“It definitely was a lot of fire coming out.   ‘Do you feel it was a problem with the product?’  Absolutely, absolutely,” he said.

John Robinson, owner of “The Vapor Lair” on Westheimer in Houston, has heard stories of exploding batteries before. 

“I'm always bummed about it I got into this industry to really help somebody, so all I think is like somebody's not doing their job," said Robinson.

Right now, only e-cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes are regulated by the FDA, but there's no timetable for when those rules might expand. 

“There are a lot of parts to these things and they need to be tightened, fastened, and checked on a regular basis," he said.         

Emanus is “undecided” about pursuing a lawsuit. 

“'Will you vape again?' Most likely not, most likely not.  That's not a chance I'm not willing to take again,” he said.

The U.S. Fire Administration has studied more than two dozen e-cig related explosions.