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Vape battery burns through woman’s purse, destroys car

Authorities warn not to leave batteries unattended while they’re charging.
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 4:22 PM HST

CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A woman’s purse — and car — burned to a crisp this week after a battery for her vape pen caught fire in Miami Township, Ohio.

The woman called 911 Monday afternoon saying “everything is melted,” according to a recording of the call obtained by WXIX.

“It’s totally on fire inside,” she said of her car. Later she clarified, “It’s not flames, it’s smoke.”

Miami Township Fire Chief Steve Kelly said it happened in the parking lot near the Youthland Academy, a licensed child-care center.

Kelly said the woman had a vape pen in her car and a spare lithium-ion battery in her purse, which she left behind when she headed into work.

“The temperatures in the car got a little bit warm, and she didn’t know it until she came back out and found out her car was smelling like smoke,” Kelly said.

The spare battery caused the fire.

At one point in the 911 call, the woman says she is afraid the car “is going to blow up” being so near the front door of the center.

The car is now a total loss. No one was hurt.

“Basically anything that can be charged and has a power source to it has an opportunity to fail,” Kelly said. “Sometimes loose batteries in a bag can come into contact with keys, which can cause them to energize or discharge. In cars especially, any type of battery can overheat and fail.”

The chief added he hasn’t seen anything like it before, though he has seen batteries in other equipment overheat.

“Sometimes it’s in remote control cars that kids have,” he said. “Sometimes it’s been in those hoverboards that for a while were very popular.”

Kelly says he wants others to learn from the woman’s experience.

“Don’t leave things unattended while they’re charging,” he said.

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