Milwaukee man's vape explodes in his kitchen

Posted at 5:14 PM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 10:48:33-04

Robert Lewis said he was standing in his kitchen Sunday when the two lithium-ion batteries inside his vape went airborne. One of them hit him in his chest. 

“It bounced and hit me in my chest and blew me back,” said Lewis. 

“My wife started crying because she thought something happened to me,” he continued. 

Lewis said the other battery struck his kitchen wall, landing on the floor and melting the linoleum. 

“It looked like a nuclear glow bar on the floor.” 

“It was like black, grey smoke all in the house, the alarms going off,” he said. 

Lewis said he charged the vape Friday and soon after, it started malfunctioning with the power cutting on and off. But he didn’t expect the batteries to catch on fire. 

Lewis’s case is just one of the hundreds of e-cigarette explosions that have happened all over the United States. 

The website eCig onehas compiled reports of e-cigarette explosions across the country, counting 274 since 2009. 

The website reported 90 percent of the e-cigarettes exploded during charging. 

Six months ago, The R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company recalled 2.6 million Vuse Vibe power units after customers reported malfunctioning batteries. 

“I didn’t think they could explode with such force,” said Lewis. 

Robert Lewis’s vape wasn’t a Vuse Vibe. It’s manufactured by a company in China called SMOKtech. He bought the $110 device from Milwaukee Vape.

A manager at the store told me it’s a popular brand and they’ve never had a complaint like Lewis’s before. 

TODAY’S TMJ4 emailed SMOKtech on Lewis’s behalf asking for a refund. A representative from Smoktech said they would be in contact with Robert Lewis.  Lewis is looking into taking legal action if necessary.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said they haven’t received any reports against SMOKtech in our state.