Electronic cigarettes have become popular in recent years with people wanting to reduce the amount of tobacco they smoke or stop smoking altogether. But in this instance, the potential health benefits were nearly outweighed by the risk of fire when an e-cigarette caused significant damage to a flat.
E-cigarettes have a battery-operated heating coil that gently heats nicotine liquid from a cartridge, enabling the user to inhale a nicotine vapour. This is believed to be less harmful than inhaling nicotine and smoke from a traditional cigarette.
The heating coil is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. In this incident, the e-cigarette had been plugged in using a USB charger, was receiving an incorrect charge and had been left unattended in the property. Unlike other common battery-powered devices, such as mobile phones, some e-cigarettes do not have an in-built setting to switch off once the battery is full. This is believed to have contributed to the cause of the fire.
Within 25 minutes of putting the e-cigarette on charge, the fire alarm sounded in the block of flats. Unfortunately it was dismissed as a false alarm, leaving the fire to develop further. Smoke was eventually spotted coming from the roof and the fire and rescue service called. Although there was significant damage to the flat, good quality fire doors in the property stopped the fire from spreading.
A number of fire and rescue services have begun to show an interest in e-cigarettes as a possible cause of ignition and there is growing concern that, in common with any other consumer product, there may be an unregulated illegal supply and some charging mechanisms may not be up to UK specifications.
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Latest Update : 21 September 2020