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Valley man recovering after e-cig explosion

PHOENIX (KSAZ) – Smoking electronic cigarettes, or “vaping” has become a popular substitute for cigarettes.

But one Valley man has a warning for users after he says the battery for his device exploded in his pocket.

The only thing he had in his pocket were two batteries for his e-cig. He spent a week at the Maricopa Medical Center’s Burn Unit, and doctors say he isn’t the first.

“It sounded like you had a pocket full of fireworks going off,” said David Garcia.

Garcia has 2nd and 3rd-degree burns mostly on his right leg. He spent seven days in the hospital, where doctors did skin graphs on his leg, and his fingers were also badly burned. He was driving when something in his pocket exploded.

“It just ignites, it just burst into flames. I knew I didn’t light it or anything; there was no reason for this flame to be 8-12 inches from my leg,” he said.

Garcia got out of his car and removed his shorts which were on fire.

“That is when I noticed it was the batteries, they had fallen out at that time,” said Garcia.

An e-cig battery is also being blamed for an incident at a gas station in Kentucky. The victim also had serious burns on his legs.

“The e-cigarettes are powered by a lithium-ion battery, and that battery can overheat, and then it can explode, and the whole unit can explode,” said Dr. Kevin Foster.

Foster says there’s been an increase in patients with burns from exploding e-cig batteries.

“I can remember 3 of them in the last 3-4 months, and two of them in the last month,” said Foster.

Garcia is now back home but has a message to users of the e-cigs.

“These things aren’t as safe as they say they are, you know I started vaping to quit cigarettes, and it worked for that, since the fire I have quit vaping as well now,” said Garcia.

He is now exploring whether to file a lawsuit against the battery maker.

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