STATESVILLE, N.C. - A 14-year old Iredell County girl is recovering after her mother’s purse exploded this weekend, leaving her with second-degree burns.
Members of her family said it happened when her mother's vape pen batteries caught fire in her purse.
Mandy Pharr told Channel 9 they had just gotten to an intersection east of Statesville when they heard what sounded like a firecracker going off and soon realized it was her purse.
>> Channel 9's Dave Faherty has investigated problems with vapes in the past and learned what users can do to stay safe.
“I had to unlock the door. The door was locked. I was panicking and I finally got it unlocked and just scooped the pocketbook while it was on fire and scooped it out on the road,” said Mandy.
They scrambled to get out of the car, but not before the flames burned her daughter, Ashley's arm and leg.
“I was really flipping out. I was scared because I didn’t know what was going on. I was sitting there and it just exploded,” said Ashley.
Pharr believes it was the batteries for her vape pen that started the fire, and she showed us identical batteries and the vape she uses.
A Channel 9 investigation last fall discovered the United States Fire Administration reviewed 195 reports of e-cigarette-related fires and explosions from 2009 to 2016.
It found the e-cigarettes’ lithium-ion battery a “new and unique hazard” because that type of battery is more prone to explode.
Local vape shops in Statesville showed us protective plastic cases they sell to store vape batteries. Store owners said the cases can help prevent the batteries from overheating and sell them for about $4 each.
Pharr said she may just give up vaping instead.
“I just don’t want it to happen to somebody else. You know, my daughter got severely burned, seond-degree burns,” she said.
The Food and Drug Administration is running an aggressive ad campaign to steer young people away from the devices, but there are plenty of vaping advocates.
The American Vaping Association said millions of people use vapor products each year and tragic events are rare.
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