A spate of fires involving electronic cigarettes and associated equipment have been reported in recent months.

In April Helen Coles, from Crewe, was woken by an explosion in her bedroom caused by en e-cigarette charger.

Ms Coles, whose 18-year-old son, 14-year-old daughter and her son's girlfriend were also at home, 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."

In August a family from Trentham, Staffordshire, were confronted by 18-inch high flames after a fire broke out in a first floor bedroom.

The blaze started after an e-cigarette was linked to a charger that came with a different e-cigarette. Just 10 minutes after it was plugged in, the smoke alarm went off.

One of the residents, Richard McGinley, urged people to always make sure they use the correct charger.

"This was a really frightening experience and we were very lucky that it was not more serious, he said.

"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."

In July a woman escaped from an explosion at her home in Ringwood, Hampshire, which was caused by an e-cigarette being plugged into a faulty charger.

In April a barmaid escaped with minor injuries after she was hit by an exploding e-cigarette which was charging behind the bar of a pub in North Yorkshire.

Again, investigators believe the blaze was caused by the e-cigarette being connected to an incompatible charger.