E-cigarettes can pose a fire danger, firefighters have warned.

While most of us know that cigarettes can cause fires, fire chiefs are now warning that the battery powered electronic versions have also caused blazes and claimed at least one life.

Kirklees firefighters are some of the latest to have to deal with an incident after an e-cigarette exploded while it was being re-charged.

No one was injured but red hot flying fragments left scorch marks on walls, floors and a sofa.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that converts liquid nicotine into a mist, or vapour, that the user inhales.

The two main types have either a replaceable cartridge or require refillable liquid. There are many different brands, all with their own specific charger.

Firefighters say the most common cause of fire appears to be either using incorrect chargers or over-tightening the screwed connection to the rechargeable battery resulting in mechanical damage.

This causes the battery cells to decompose, creating heat and possible failure.

A third danger is caused by “over charging” as unlike most mobile phones, many lithium-ion batteries within e-cigarettes do not have any protection to stop the coil overheating, which can lead to battery exploding.

Sean Fearon, fire investigation officer for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said that the owner of the e-cigarette in the latest incident, in Batley, had in fact followed the instructions.

Scorch marks from exploding e-cigarette in Batley
Scorch marks from exploding e-cigarette in Batley
 

Mr Fearon said: “However, a lot of research is going on nationally into the potential problems surrounding e-cigarettes and the initial indications seem to point towards incorrect charging rather than faulty products.

“I imagine that some people may get e-cigarettes as Christmas gifts and I advise potential users to follow our safety tips.”

An investigation into the Batley explosion discovered the e-cigarette was about one week old and had been recharged twice using the wall socket charger.

On the third occasion it was being charged using the USB connection on a laptop.

After 15 minutes, a yellow flash and loud bang were seen and heard by the occupants.

The e-cigarette had exploded causing burning fragments to be fired across the living room, causing some burning to the carpet and scorch marks on the settee and opposite wall.

The most serious incident of note outside of the West Yorkshire area was in October , and resulted in a fatality in Derbyshire.

The fire was as a result of components from different e-cigarettes being used together along with an incorrectly rated charger.

Only use the charger supplied with your kit – there are many chargers on the market that will only work with one brand of batteries but can cause problems with other battery types.

Do not mix and match components from different e-cig manufacturers.

Never over tighten a battery on to the charger – plug the charger in first, then gently screw the battery in until the light on the charger flashes and then stop.

Never leave them unattended whilst on charge.

Clean the battery centre pin and charger contact at least once a week with tissue or alcohol wipes.

Remove battery from charger when fully charged.