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Consumer Alert: Exploding electronic cigarettes

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Electronic cigarette (Photo source: Wikipedia) Electronic cigarette (Photo source: Wikipedia)

It's a painful and scary experience yet it seems to be happening more and more lately.  We're talking about electronic cigarettes and their propensity to explode while in your pocket.

There are news reports all over the Internet about this very issue. In fact, it happened just last month to a guy in Kentucky. And get this, it has now happened to a Valley man, who says he could have been killed.

David Garcia is recuperating from an accident he never saw coming. The battery to his electronic cigarette exploded in his pocket while he was driving recently, setting his pants on fire.

"Like a Roman Candle, it started going off in my pocket," he said. It wasn't just like a lighter or flame; it sounded loud like a torch."

Garcia says he immediately pulled over, jumped out of the car, and tried to pull the burning battery out of his pocket.

“I was screaming," he said. "I couldn't make sense of what was going on."

The explosion left Garcia with second- and third-degree burns over the right side of his body.

Pictures taken after the incident are too graphic to show, but Garcia spent nearly a week at Maricopa County's Burn Unit and underwent surgery.

It could take more than a year to fully recover.

"It's itching now. It's starting to heal," he said. "When it's healing, it itches. So I just rub it gently or tap on it lightly."

Exploding electronic cigarettes and their batteries are becoming a growing concern.

A quick search of the Internet shows all kinds of videos and news reports depicting similar situations.

But, exactly what is causing e-cigs or their batteries to explode?

No one seems to know yet. But Garcia says the products need to come with some kind of warning to consumers.

“When I bought the batteries, had they said, hey, don't keep these together or don't keep them in the heat, or don’t do this or don't do that, there was none of that.  It was just like, 'How many batteries do you need?'"

As a result of his injures, Garcia and his wife have been left with medical bills totaling more than $100,000, something they hope their insurance will cover.

As for Garcia, he says his smoking days are officially over and says he'll never pick up another electronic cigarette or battery again.

"Nobody wants to go through this.  This is horrible.  I wouldn't wish this on anybody.”

Garcia and his wife have retained an attorney and they are considering suing the maker of that electronic cigarette battery.

If there's an update, we'll let you know.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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