Smoking may not only wreck your health; it could also destroy your home. Just ask Elizabeth Wilkowski – an Atlanta, Ga. resident who recently made headlines after her e-cigarette reportedly exploded in her living room. In an interview with WSB-TV, she told reporters that the burst of flames came close to torching her house as well as her pets.
“It was like kaboom!, and I see this flame shooting across my living room," she said, describing the four-foot flame that suddenly shot out from the device. "If I hadn't had been home, I would have lost my dogs, I would have lost my cats, I would have lost my house."
Leonard Rodda, the store owner from whom Wilkoski bought the e-cigarette, told reporters that he no longer carries the brand. He has offered to replace the explosive device with one from a different brand. In his opinion, the incident is very alarming.
"I've only recently heard about that with the battery, and it's a low voltage so I'm surprised that anything like that would happen," he said.
Other retailers share Rodda’s concern, but submit that such extreme malfunctions are very rare. Doris Holmes, who recently opened an e-cigarette shop in Suwanee, told WSB-TV that while Wilkowski’s exploding device is upsetting, virtually all electronic products carry an inherent risk of fire.
"Anything that's electronic and plugs into electricity, you have the potential for it catching on fire,” she told reporters. “I don't leave my dishwasher running when I leave my home.”
A similar incident galvanized national media last year, when a 57-year-old Florida man’s e-cigarette exploded in his mouth. Aside from severe facial burns, the blow resulted in the loss of several teeth and parts of his tongue. At that point, the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA) said that they were not aware of any similar malfunctions in the past. Speaking to the Associated Press, the organization co-founder Thomas Kiklas said that millions of Americans were enjoying the product without complications.
He said, "There have been billions and billions of puffs on the cigarettes and we have not heard of this happening before."