VIDEO & PICS: e-cigarette explodes and sets fire to barmaid
Updated 5:16pm Tuesday 8th April 2014 in News
This is the moment a barmaid narrowly escaped when an e-cigarette exploded in flames in a packed pub and rocketed towards her.
Shocked Laura Baty, 18, was serving a customer when she heard a huge bang and saw the device shoot in her direction.
The flames singed her arms and set her dress on fire as she tried to get out of the way.
The sizzling e-cig - which had been on charge behind the bar - then landed on the floor and scorched the vinyl tiles before burning itself out.
Part of it also hit at customer at the Buck Inn Hotel in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and left him with a red mark in his stomach.
Laura said: "I was about to give somebody their change and I heard the bang. I could see the fire coming at me and I felt the heat as I ran away.
"I started crying hysterically and my arm was all black. My dress caught on fire as I ran away and I just didn't know what was happening.
"A customer came and took me in to the bathroom to calm me down. She washed down my arm which was all black and I still didn't know what had happened."
Laura, who has worked at the pub for nearly two years, was badly shaken by the explosion on Saturday.
She added: "I thought the fuse-box had blown up or a firework had gone off.
Everybody was just so shocked."
The e-cigarette belonged to fellow barman Stewart Paterson, 21, who has been trying to quit smoking since December last year.
He said: "I put the e-cigarette on charge in my iPad charger, which I have done countless times before.
"I heard a huge bang that sounded like a firework. I turned around to see a ball of fire weaving about.
"I saw Laura running away and thought somebody had thrown a firework.
"A punter pointed to the e-cigarette that I had been charging and it was still smoking. It had burnt through the vinyl floor as well.
"When the battery exploded the end shot across the room and hit one punter in the stomach and left him with a red mark.
"I just keep thinking what if this had happened while I was charging it at home. I might have been out and the damage could have been horrendous.
"When I looked back at the footage I saw how close the fireball came to Laura's head. If she was stood a couple of inches to the right she could have been badly hurt."
Stewart, a student, added: "It was a full pub at the time and we had a local football team in celebrating the end of season. It is lucky that no one else was badly hurt."
Alyson Down, Community Safety Officer at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: "What would have happened if this occurred when no one was about?
"The advice we give is to make sure you are nearby if you are charging up any product that requires charging from the mains.
"A lot of people leave them unattended, but you should never do this.
"I used to charge my phone up overnight, but now I charge it before I fall asleep in case something like what happened at The Buck in Richmond.
"We strongly recommend people to not leave devices that are charging up unattended."
Richmond Fire Officer and Crew Manager Steve Bake, added: "It's very concerning.
"If that had happened in someone's house, it could have set curtains or furniture ablaze so there is a clearly a big risk here. Especially if someone has no smoke detectors.
"Although it made a big bang which would wake you up, you might think nothing of it and fall asleep again."
A spokeswoman for the battery manufacturer said: "We provide clear information on websites and in electronic cigarette starter kits that explain how our batteries should be charged and cared for.
"We cannot comment on the circumstance of this particular instance or make any comment on the provenance of this battery. However, it does not appear that a dedicated electronic cigarette charger was used.
"A number of independent organisations, including the fire service, have reiterated warnings that charging lithium batteries incorrectly and failing to take necessary care of these devices can lead to catastrophic failure."
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