Dad, 37, suffers third-degree burns after vape pen explodes ‘like a bomb’ in his pocket

Harriet Brewis
London Fire Brigade

A dad suffered serious burns and scars to his legs after an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket when it came into contact with his keys.

Richard Bingham, 37, said he “had never felt pain like it” after the burning vape pen shattered “like a bomb” in his pocket last summer.

He suffered third degree burns on his left leg and as well as blistering to his hand where he’d tried to pull out the hazardous e-cig.

Luckily, the contractor was working at Whittington Hospital in north London when the accident took place, so he was immediately rushed to A&E for treatment.

Mr Bingham was lucky to be working at a north London hospital when the horrific accident occurred (London Fire Brigade )

The father-of-one told London Fire Brigade (LFB): “I could hear a hissing and popping and I was looking around asking what it was. Then it stopped and all of a sudden I felt this heat in my pocket and I knew straight away what was happening.

“I was trying to get my vape out of my pocket but it was burning my hand so I couldn’t get it out. Everyone was helping me as I was trying to get my boots undone so I could get my trousers off but it was too late – I was already badly burnt. Hospital staff were coming out and pouring water over my leg.

“It all happened so quickly but I have never felt pain like it. I can laugh about it now but I’ve never been so scared – it was like a bomb going off in my pocket.”

Mr Bigham has been left with bad scarring but, fortunately, did not need to have skin grafts. He acknowledged his injuries could have been a lot worse if he had not been working in a hospital at the time.

Richard Bingham's leg followin the incident (London Fire Brigade)

Fire investigators believe the keys in his pocket may have caused the vape’s battery to short-circuit.

Mr Bingham said he was not aware contact with metal items could cause e-cigarettes to explode.

He explained: “I’ve been vaping for about four years and seen videos of them exploding but you just don’t expect it to go off like that. I must have been lucky as I’ve always had change or keys in my pocket - I just don’t think people are aware of the dangers.

“I did try to give up and haven’t been able to, but I’m so careful now. I’ve got one of the cases to keep everything in and I never carry my vape around with me and if I see other people vaping I walk away.”

Mr Bingham has joined LFB in supporting an Office for Product and Safety Standards campaign, launched yesterday to highlight the potential dangers of using vapes.

The Brigade said that despite only having attended a handful of incidents involving vape batteries, firefighters remain concerned about a number of reported “near misses”.

LFB’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “Compared to the number of fires we see caused by cigarettes, vaping could be seen as a much safer option.

“However, we are concerned that there are often cases such as Richard’s where the batteries have short-circuited and gone out but there is a very real potential of them starting a serious fire.

“If you are using vaping products it’s vital you only use the charger it was supplied with and never overcharge it.”

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