Vape pen charger explosion causes thousands of dollars worth of damage to California woman's home

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Vape pen charger explosion leaves thousands in damage to Kerman woman's home
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When Kathryn Lemm of Kerman came home Monday afternoon she noticed something was off.

FRESNO, Calif. -- When Kathryn Lemm of Kerman, California came home Monday afternoon she noticed something was off.

"There was a weird smell, a strange smell, almost like a smokey smell, but not like campfire smoke," she said.

She called 911 as she investigated.

"It got stronger and I kept walking back and I'm thinking, OK there is definitely fire smell here," Lemm said.

The stench and smoke led her into a bedroom, and that's where she made the discovery.

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"I peeked around the corner and saw a black splatter on the corner and then I yelled fire," she said.

Within minutes firefighters put the fire out. Detectives discovered the cause shortly after.

"After a while, they brought out the melted lithium battery charger and asked me if I knew what this was," Lemm said.

It was their vape pen charger. North Central Fire fire inspector Andy Isolano says it exploded.

"The batteries exploded and it threw an aerosol can through the ceiling and it was actually lodged in the ceiling and we found one other battery completely unraveled and it was on a dresser where the jewelry box caught fire," Isolano said.

According to Isolano, had the Aerosol can hit their bed, the outcome would have been much worse. Instead, there are only a few thousand dollars in damages.

"My table was burned up, a lot of smoke damage in the house. My carpet has things that were lodged in it. My ceiling is damaged," Lemm said.

Lemm considers herself lucky.

"What if we had been gone another hour. Who knows what could have happened. That gave me chills," she said.

Isolano says this is another example of how dangerous vape pens can be.

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"Obviously it is more dangerous than we thought, we've had incidents where these batteries have exploded, but it is just a reminder that if you are going to have it, maybe put it out on the patio," he said.

The fire department recommends people charge their vaping pens in an open area away from other items, especially anything flammable.