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Woman says E-cigarette exploded, shot flames 4 feet across living room

This electronic cigarette, used by homeowner Elizabeth Wilkowski, nearly destroyed her house after flames shot four feet from it. 09-02-13
This electronic cigarette, used by homeowner Elizabeth Wilkowski, nearly destroyed her house after flames shot four feet from it.
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Updated: 9/03/2013 9:24 am
ATLANTA -- A Grant Park woman said the new electronic cigarette she bought to improve her health nearly destroyed her house.

WSB-TV Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland had Elizabeth Wilkowski demonstrate what happened.

"It was like kaboom!, and I see this flame shooting across my living room," Wilkowski said.

A scorch mark on the couch, a hole burned in the rug and the charred remains of the cleaning rag speak of the flames and heat.

Wilkowski used the rag protect her hand as she grabbed for the E-cigarette, which had been plugged in to her computer's USB port to charge.

"If I hadn't had been home, I would have lost my dogs, I would have lost my cats, I would have lost my house," Wilkowski told Strickland.

Leonard Rodda owns the store where Wilkowski bought the E-cigarette. Rodda said he no longer carries the brand, E-Hit. He's offering to replace it with the brand he now carries from a Marietta distributor.

"I've only recently heard about that with the battery, and it's a low voltage so I'm surprised that anything like that would happen," Rodda said.

An E-cigarette trade association figures there are about 3.5 million of the devices in use.

Retailer Doris Holmes just opened her own e-cigarette shop in Suwanee two weeks ago. She said the fires may get headlines but in fact they're rare.

"Anything that's electronic and plugs into electricity, you have the potential for it catching on fire. I don't leave my dishwasher running when I leave my home," said Holmes.

Strickland found reports of fires in Oklahoma, California, Texas and Florida.

Video: WSB-TV Atlanta
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