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Electronic cigarette explosion injures Huntington man

Jacob Philbeck said he was injured when his vape mod electronic cigarette exploded while he was holding it Wednesday. (WCHS/WVAH)

Gruesome burns sent a Huntington man to the hospital after his electronic cigarette, also known as a vape mod, exploded in his hands Wednesday.

Jacob Philbeck said he swapped the batteries from another mod in his extensive collection from North Carolina shops, and it almost immediately began sparking and spraying flaming hot chemicals.

“There was this little ding and then burning,” Philbeck said.

Both of his hands were burned and sparks melted through his pants burning his leg.

“The cap that holds the batteries in there, that just completely blew off,” Philbeck said.

Philbeck’s girlfriend, Sheila Childress, ran to help and said she found the mod on the couch still burning.

She eventually called paramedics who rushed Philbeck to the hospital.

“I was startled for life,” Childress said, “I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what to think.”

It wasn’t clear what exactly caused the critical failure.

The failed box was not sold at My Vapor Place on 4th Avenue in Huntington, but employees there said several safety measures can keep mod boxes in one piece.

“It’s rare,” salesperson Kayla Legg said.

She said My Vapor Place runs inexperienced customers through training before making a sale.

“We don’t even sell unregulated mods to people who don’t know how to build,” Legg said.

Legg said most modern boxes will self-regulate, but people should never use damaged batteries. Legg also encouraged to always follow OHM’s law,and when in doubt, stop vaping and ask questions.

“If they feel like something is wrong with their mod, they should just sit it down,” Legg said.

As Philbeck’s wounds continue to heal, he said he’s giving thanks that his injuries aren’t worse.

“I’m very lucky,” he said. “The one above, he was looking after me.”

Philbeck said he is considering taking legal action, but need to consult with an attorney before making a decision.

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