Vape Pen Exploded In Man's Face, Killing Him, Autopsy Suggests

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Former CNBC television producer Tallmadge D'Elia, 38, was found dead in a burning bedroom in his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., on May 5 as a result of what the Pinellas County medical examiner now says was an exploding vape pen.

The fatality may be the first blamed on a vape pen. Officials are ruling the death an accident, but that's hardly comforting for D'Elia's friends and family.

An autopsy has confirmed that a man died after his e-cigarette exploded, penetrated his brain and left him with burns to 80 per cent of his body. The vape was manufactured by the Philippines-based Smok-E Mountain. Before then, a New Yorker suffered third-degree burns after the device exploded in his trousers, the Times reported. In Idaho in January 2017, a man lost several teeth and suffered second-degree burns after a vape pen exploded in his face, according to NBC 6.

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The type of vape pen D'Elia used is described online as not having any safety features.

The explosions usually occur suddenly, the report found, "and are accompanied by loud noise, a flash of light, smoke, flames, and often vigorous ejection of the battery and other parts".

In its official report on Electronic Cigarette Fires and Explosions, FEMA said "the shape and construction of electronic cigarettes can make them [more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries] to behave like "flaming rockets" when a battery fails".

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has since determined that this is the first e-cigarette death in the United States, ABC Action News reported.

"The combination of an electronic cigarette and a lithium-ion battery is a new and unique hazard", the report [PDF] found.

Some other e-cigarettes come with computer chips that monitor that battery's heat and prevent devices from overheating. Instead, they sell vape pens with a computer chip inside, which keeps the device from overheating.

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A representative from Smok-E Mountain told ABC affiliate WFTS that it believed the problem was related to the device's atomizer or battery, and not the device itself.

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