CHESHIRE fire chiefs are warning people not to leave e-cigarettes on charge for long periods of time following recent incidents across the UK where devices have exploded.
Cheshire firefighters were called to a house in Sedgemere Avenue, Crewe, on March 18 after the householder had been awoken by an explosion in her bedroom.
It had been caused by an electronic cigarette battery charger. Helen Coles, her 18 year-old son, 14 year-old daughter and her son's girlfriend were all in the house at the time of the explosion, which burnt the carpet and filled the property with smoke.
Ms Coles said: "I had bought a new vapour cigarette from Liverpool shopping centre, used it that day and then put it on charge by my bed before going to sleep.
"At around 3.30am the room lit up and there was an explosion. It sounded like a really loud firework and the room was scattered with melted plastic and black cinders. The smoke filled the upstairs of my house completely and it took over an hour with all the windows open to clear it. The smell lasted for about a week.
"If I had not been in the room at the time and reacted so quickly to dampen the sparks then my carpet would have definitely set on fire. If I had been in the firing line of the battery when it exploded it would cause serious damage as it flew across the room."
Helen had put out the fire herself but called in Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service the following day as a precaution.
Keith Brooks, head of Community Safety and Community Fire Protection, said: “E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular and, with more people using the devices, we seeing more and more incidents relating to them across the UK and we need to make sure that people know how to charge them safely.
“The family was very lucky that the fire did not take hold – the situation could have been a lot worse. We would urge people never to leave their e-cigarette on charge while they are away from the house or asleep and to always read the safety advice enclosed in the packaging to reduce the risk of a fire.
"Our advice for e-cigarettes is the same as for many smaller electrical appliances such as mobile phones and laptops - don’t be tempted to buy cheap unbranded chargers, don’t leave them to charge whilst you are out of the house or asleep and keep them well away from flammable materials.”