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E-cigarette reportedly explodes in Paso Robles teen’s face

A man smokes an electronic cigarette in Chicago.
A man smokes an electronic cigarette in Chicago. The Associated Press

A Paso Robles teen is recovering from severe burns after his e-cigarette reportedly exploded in his face.

Daniel McClelland, 17, was “vaping,” or smoking an e-cigarette, on the evening of April 18 when the device blew up and caught on fire, according to a family GoFundMe page. Paso Robles Emergency Services responded to the 1900 block of Cottonwood Drive at 5:57 p.m., said Battalion Chief Keith Aggson.

McClelland was eventually taken to the burn unit of Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. According to family Facebook and GoFundMe pages, McClelland suffered dental injuries and severe burns to his mouth and trachea. He’s currently listed in fair condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

McClelland has retained the services of Andrade Law Offices in Santa Barbara, according to his mother, Gina Skove Krasnow. Both Krasnow and the law firm declined to comment.

Two other San Luis Obispo County men were recently burned and injured by e-cigarette explosions.

Darin Dyroff of Pismo Beach filed a lawsuit against VIP Vapor Shop and Lounge after his e-cigarette exploded in December, causing severe burns to his hands and face, according to a New Times report.

A 29-year-old Paso Robles man in November suffered upper thigh burns when an e-cigarette he was carrying in his pocket blew up as he bent over, Aggson said.

E-cigarettes are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A 2014 U.S. Fire Administration study of e-cigarette fires and explosions noted that accurate data on the frequency of such fires isn’t collected, but found media reports of 25 incidents of explosion and fire involving the device between 2009 and August 2014.

Lithium-ion batteries — the same ones used in hoverboards, which have also erupted in fires — are used to power e-cigarettes and sometimes fail and overheat, causing devices to explode, according to the study.

E-cigarettes most frequently blow up when they’re being charged, but they’ve also been known to explode while in use.

The California Department of Public Health in January 2015 declared e-cigarettes a “community health threat.” The report cited the toxic chemicals contained in the fluid used to create the vapor, which also could be a health hazard for unsuspecting young children.

California has prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors since 2011.

A bill that would raise the smoking age to 21 and regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco products passed the state Senate in March. It’s still awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

McClelland’s family is using a GoFundMe page to raise money for his hospital bills. To donate, visit gofundme.com/2rpn73ys.

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