Vape pens cause concern after deadly fire

- Firefighters and store owners are addressing concerns over vape pens following a weekend accident that left a man dead.

Saturday, a St. Petersburg man was killed in a house fire that investigators think was started when the battery inside one of the pens exploded in his face. 

Lt. Steven Lawrence says it appears 38-year-old Tallmadge D'elia was vaping when the battery exploded causing the house to go up in flames.  Lawrence says their preliminary investigation shows

D’elia’s face was injured in the blast and he was unable to escape the burning home.

Lawrence says vape pen explosions are happening enough to where they are incorporated into training for firefighters. 

"Over the course of the year we've probably had two or three with minor injuries," Lawrence continued. 
In January, a vape pen exploded in the backpack of someone riding a bus in Largo; no one was injured. 

Lt. Lawrence says it's unclear in the St. Pete case, but often people will try to modify the batteries so they will burn hotter, causing them to overheat and explode.

Colin Leon, who works at Purely Vapor in Tampa, says it's important for each store to teach battery safety.

"We try to inform people as much as we can," Leon said.

Purely Vapor has their customers sign forms acknowledging they've been instructed on battery safety and sell protective covers for their batteries.  Experts say modifying a vape pen from the factory settings can be dangerous and possibly deadly. 

The medical examiner is still investigating D’elia’s death.  

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