FIREFIGHTERS are warning of the dangers of electrical chargers after an e-cigarette caused a devastating blaze in Ringwood – within an hour of it being plugged in.
A mother is lucky to be alive after a charger overheated in an upstairs bedroom and set fire to a pressurised canister on an air horn, which exploded, causing a massive fire at the Southampton Road property. The charger connected to the e-cigarette was not the charger that came with the device, as her son replaced it after he was unable to find the original.
Luckily the family had working smoke detectors throughout the four-bedroom detached property and she was able to raise the alarm quickly enough to stop the whole house going up in flames.
Group commander Dan Tasker paid tribute to the retained firefighters who raced to the scene, getting the blaze under control within five minutes of their arrival.
He said: “I can’t praise them enough – they did a cracking job.
“The room where the fire started was extensively damaged and the structure house was compromised – the family won’t be moving back in any time soon.
“The crew from Ringwood made sure the family were ok, and got the Red Cross in to help them in the aftermath of the fire. They were fantastic.”
Trading standards are looking into incidents of faulty chargers, and chargers being used inappropriately after a string of incidents.
Mr Tasker said: “People charge their devices from their laptops and use other USB connectors without the safety cut-off.
“The proper chargers have a point where they go on to trickle charge when the device is charged, which stops it overheating. A lead plugged into your laptop doesn’t, and as an e-cig only takes about half an hour to charge it overheated very quickly.”
Only chargers supplied with electrical items should be used, says Mr Tasker. The incident is the latest in a string of incidents in the UK involving the use of cheap or inappropriate chargers and firefighters said the woman is lucky to have received no injuries.
- In May, a Welsh woman was burned after her e-cigarette exploded when it was plugged into her phone charger and a barmaid in North Yorkshire was also injured earlier this year when a charging e-cigarette overheated.
While e-cigarettes can be susceptible to overheating due to the type of battery they contain, Hampshire's Trading Standards are keen to stress the importance of using the right charger for all devices and raise awareness of the dangers of cheap alternatives.
A spokesman from Hampshire County Council Trading Standards said: "The message is do not buy cheap or unbranded chargers for use with e-cigarettes, mobile phones or any other devices. They are invariably dangerous and illegal.
"At the least, they are capable of destroying your device. At worst, they have the potential to give a fatal electric shock or cause a very serious house fire.
"Our officers regularly stop and destroy large quantities of unsafe chargers as part of their work at ports. This is a widespread problem, with many being sold through internet sellers.
"Always make sure that the rated output of your charger is matched to the product you are charging."