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RAMONA, Calif. – A man was hospitalized with burns to his face after an electronic cigarette exploded, a fire official said Monday.

Authorities responded to the Stage Stop Liquor Store in Ramona Sunday evening after an e-cigarette exploded, burning an employee and damaging the store, CAL FIRE Captain Kendal Bortisser said. Materials from the e-cigarette cut the man’s face and shattered a glass display inside the store, the captain said.

The man was taken to the UC San Diego Medical Center burn unit to be treated for his injuries, Bortisser said.

The unidentified man was listed in critical condition.

What caused the e-cigarette to explode was under investigation.

Concerns Over E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide doses of nicotine and other additives to the users in the form of vapor.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised concerns about e-cigarettes and the “poisonous” liquid nicotine.

The popularity of e-cigarettes is on the rise. Over 6 million people use the tobaccoless devices as a “safer” alternative to cigarettes.

“The only failures I’ve seen of that type are when the tip may pop off and a little bit of heat is dispelled but not explode at that level. Looking at the report I don’t see that level of damage as a possibility with the units that they showed in the pictures,” said Thomas Kiklas, who represents the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.

Kiklas said although he’s aware of at least a dozen explosions since 2007 that have caused fire or injury– he’s never heard of one that caused serious damage. He said all battery-operated devices like laptops, cell phones and e-cigs all have a propensity to explode.

“If it’s a basic electronic cigarette, or as we call it a cig light. It seems very unlikely to cause that much damage as it’s less than two and an half watts. It’s a very small battery,” said Kiklas.

The number of reported explosions remain minuscule compared to the number of battery-operated e-cigs in use, Kiklas said.

“On a much larger scale system that’s married to a charger I’ve seen them fail at a greater amount of energy then a standard e-cigarette… so yes I’ve seen that in the past, but again they are an electronic device there are incidents of failure, when an electronic device is married to a charger,” said Kiklas. “E-Cigs are safe make sure you follow the directions of use and use the intended charger for that particular device and you shouldn’t have any issues.”

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to commercial airlines suggesting passengers put e-cigarettes in carry-on bags only.

An e-cigarette in luggage in the cargo hold of a plane at Boston’s Logan Airport caused a fire that spurred an airplane evacuation on the tarmac in August, FAA warned.

A similar incident occurred at Los Angeles International Airport baggage area in January.

The FAA suggested if an e-cigarette causes a fire in a carry-on bag, the blaze can be extinguished faster than in the cargo hold.

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