E-cigarette explodes, causes La Crosse fire

Firefighters recommend limiting amount of time they're plugged in

The La Crosse Fire Department is learning to deal with fires from e-cigarettes. 

This past weekend, firefighters were alerted to a number of burn marks in a house after they say an e-cigarette exploded. 

The resident told fire investigators the e-cigarette was plugged into a wall outlet when they heard a loud “pop” sound in the living room. They found e-cigarette debris and a fire about 25 feet across the room from where it was initially plugged in, Residents quickly put out the fire. 

La Crosse Fire Division Chief Craig Snyder tell News 8 these types of incidents have been happening across the nation, but only when the device is charging. That’s because the device’s battery doesn’t have the necessary protections like cell phones when it’s plugged in. 

“Those lithium ion batteries don’t have an overcurrent protection to them, so they continue to draw on that heat  until the coil overheats and the lithium ion actually explodes in the unit. I haven’t seen any yet that have happened while somebody was smoking them,” Snyder said. 

Sales of e-cigarettes have skyrocketed from 50,000 a year to more than one million since they came out in 2007. Firefighters recommend limiting the amount of time the devices are plugged in and always keeping an eye on them.