Utah man burned by exploding battery urges other e-cigarette users to be cautious

WARNING: This video contains photos of second-degree burns. Viewer discretion is advised.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some Utahns are learning the painful way that e-cigarette batteries and metal objects can be a hazardous combination.

Car keys, a money clip or change in your pocket, along with an e-cig battery, can ignite an explosion.

FOX 13 News’ Kiersten Nuñez spoke with one man who recently suffered second-degree burns after just such an explosion, and he said he had no idea such things were possible.

Austin Mark said he was on his lunch break and put some change in his pocket, and shortly after that he was rushed to a hospital.

“It just completely exploded, it went off like a bottle rocket,” he said.

Second-degree burns cover 23-year-old Austin Mark's leg and hand.

“It just completely singed all the hair off of my leg and the skin on my hand also,” he said. “…I’m definitely not smoking e-cigs anymore.”

Austin said he started vaping to quit smoking cigarettes. But on Tuesday, his device unexpectedly exploded in his pocket.

“I had no idea: nobody ever told me anything about the dangers of these,” he said.

The owner at Gourmet Vapor, where Austin bought his e-cig, says he warns all of his customers that the batteries and metal don't mix.

“This has been an ongoing issue,” said Kacy McGowan, owner of Gourmet Vapor.

McGowan said such batteries should always be kept in a case.

“If you throw a battery in your pocket without the case on it, and you have a bunch of change inside of your pocket, then of course change is going to touch both sides of that and you're going to have an explosion,” McGowan said.

These unregulated devices are something the state health department is telling people to use with caution.

“There's obviously some concern that this is going to be a new trend we'll see, and the damage it can do is really tragic,” said Brittany Karzen of the Utah Department of Health.

That damage is something Austin experienced firsthand.

“Just be careful when you're playing with your e-cigs, keep all this in mind,” he said.

The health department says there's no way to track if these cases are on the rise, but this marks the fourth incident this week FOX 13 News has received report of.


  • Dana Burnidge

    Strictly speaking, the reality of Vapor devices and their use is that situations like this arise from neglect. Neglect most clearly featured in this person’s treatment of their batteries… Vapor vendors take great strides to inform their guests of the inherent risks related to the use of the products they sell. It is the responsibility, and in this case, failure, of the user that determines the outcome. Misuse, abuse, and neglect of any electronic device will result in adverse performance. I implore the media to share and encourage discussion where battery safety is concerned, beyond Vapor products; recently Cellular Telephone batteries have come under scrutiny and it is for very similar reasons that they are. Electronic devices are to be treated with respect, and if the user is not aware of the realities of using the device, they should make themselves aware by asking others who know better, listening, and applying the knowledge that others have shared. The owner of Gourmet Vapor did what was to be expected; they informed their client to the best of their ability. This situation transpired through pure carelessness, as do so many other examples of this type of occurence. Vapor products are adult products, using them incurs a certain responsibility, if one is incapable of discharging this responsibility they would do well to avoid it.

    As a Vapor industry professional; I am continually disappointed to see stories like this that overlook the responsibility of the individual entirely in favor of drumming up a fearful attitude in the general public. These occurrences are not at all typical, and are 100% preventable.

    I would like to see more coverage of the reality that Vapor is an effective tool in quitting smoking, and I would like to offer myself as a source of information in Vapor matters, I am an expert in my field who has helped over 14,000 people make the switch from combustion. Vapor is a vastly healthier, and indeed safer alternative to Smoking. One quick question: How many houses have burnt down this year so far from Smoking? And… How many have died?

    Another: Would you put a AA battery in your pocket with loose change?


    Then do not do it with a battery of vastly greater power.

  • Gwag

    I agree with Dana below this is purely a matter of stupidity and not using common sense the batteries that are used in e-cigs are a rechargeable battery , this is no different then a 9v smoke alarms battery in your pocket , , FOX 13 NOW reporting in this and isolating e-cig users and not saying where the real issue lies ( with irresponsible people ) ,
    Just another way the media throws Shi* out of proportion and blame others for the mistakes of irresponsible idiots


    Why the need to spend time on e-cigs in the first place? Human lungs do their job a whole lot better without needlessly filling them with crap.

  • My name is Yeff

    Sounds like natural selection is taking its course. This is common sense people. It’s a battery. You don’t lay a screw driver across your car battery right?…… I have a guy that works for me and continually leaves his ecig batteries in his pocket with his keys. Burned a hole in his pants and almost exploded but definitely vented. This was the second incident. I already instructed him to use a battery case. I feel that the people this keeps happening to just deserve it because they will never learn. Natural selection!

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