Warning over e-cigarette chargers
A nationwide safety alert is being issued after a "highly disturbing" spate of fires caused by exploding e-cigarette chargers.
Recent blazes caused by incompatible chargers overheating could just be the tip of the iceberg with many cases going unreported, the Local Government Association (LGA) - which represents all 49 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales, fears.
It has called for e-cigarette manufacturers to do more to warn of the dangers, including displaying prominent safety warnings about the issue, on e-cigarette packaging.
Fire chiefs say many blazes occur because some smokers are not using compatible chargers.
This means too much current goes into the batteries and they overheat and eventually explode.
E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular and are used by more than two million Britons each year, but a number of fires have also been reported.
In an incident in a Birmingham office, the e-cigarette had been left on a desk to charge via a computer USB port. While the owner was away from his desk, the battery leaked, spraying hot acid where he had been sitting moments earlier.
A similar e-cigarette battery exploded when it was left to charge in a house in Solihull, causing a fire and subsequent smoke damage to much of the room and its contents.
Figures from nationwide fire services reveal that, since 2012, they have attended 113 calls to e-cigarette-related blazes.
There were just eight call-outs in 2012, but the number soared to 43 in 2013 - and there were at least 62 in 2014.
Councillor Jeremy Hilton, chair of the LGA's Fire Services Management Committee, said: "The recent spate of fires connected with e-cigarettes is highly disturbing and we are issuing a nationwide alert to users to be vigilant at all times. We are warning them that it is simply not worth risking their lives to save a few pounds by buying dodgy, dangerous or incompatible chargers.
"Fire authorities all over the country are being called out more regularly to these types of incidents. Alarmingly, there is no way of knowing the true figure as we understand many cases are going unreported.
"Tragically, at least one life appears to have been claimed and more fatalities could follow unless users become more aware of the risks and take sensible precautions."