North Port man badly burned in vape pen explosion

- Working with glass and metal comes with its own safety code at Euro-Wall in North Port, but it's what happened inside an office that's caught many off guard. One of the company’s managers had just sat down when his vape pen exploded in his pocket. 

“There was smoke in the office. He had opened the door. He was in shock," recalled employee Brant Julius. "You could see the chemical burns are a little different and seeing it fresh like that, literally I could smell the difference between flesh burning.”

The man, identified by co-workers only as Mike, was airlifted to Blake Medical Center in Manatee County with second- and third-degree burns. He underwent surgery Monday morning. 

It's unclear as to why the vape pen exploded, but it comes as a reminder. 

"We tend to let our guard down or not think of it as a device that could be dangerous," said North Port Fire Chief Scott Titus. 

Titus said users need to follow the device's guidelines. 

"Keep it covered while in the pocket, using the appropriate charging device, not using a device or something else, to make sure it’s regulated. To not leave it charging unattended over time, to make sure that it’s covered so the contacts don’t contact any metal," Chief Titus advised. 

As the owner of Euro-Wall works to redraft his company policy of e-cigs and vape pens, he wants to make sure an incident like this one isn't repeated in the future. 

The state fire marshal’s office continues its investigation into how the vape pen exploded. 

"He's very lucky,” Julius added.  “He could have lost his hand. He could have had it up by his face. You’ve seen reports like that and it would have been devastating for him and his family.”

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