Stephen Shopshire says he is believes he's done smoking after an e-cigarette almost started a fire in the apartment where he and his wife live. (Source: CBS 5 News)
This is what's left from the e-cigarette after it caught fire while plugged into a wall outlet. (Source: CBS 5 News)
The instrument began to burn and set off a smoke detector that saved Shopshire and wife. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Smoking an average of one pack a day, 22-year-old Stephen Shopshire switched from regular cigarettes to a Smokein T electronic cigarette three months ago to help save some money.
"I was thinking, 'Yeah, I'm going to save money, I'm going to be healthier, it's going to work out," Shopshire said. "We ended up putting our lives in jeopardy."
Monday morning, as he and his wife slept, the overloaded battery to his e-cigarette plugged into the wall caught fire. A smoke detector woke them up.
"If that fire detector hadn't gone off we could have been killed," Shopshire said. "We were right on the other side of that wall where the carpet was on fire, that's where we were sleeping with our head board right against the wall."
Shopshire's story resonates with electronic cigarette users everywhere. A car in the Valley was badly damaged after it caught fire because of an e-cigarette left in the charger, fire officials said. Another car was damaged in Salt Lake City for the same reason in July.
"I had to hurry and grab it and throw it out of my car," said Krisy Hernandez. "It burnt my fingers. "
Right now, e-cigarettes fall into a regulatory gray area, with the Federal Drug Administration having no authority over the devices. CBS 5 News could find no mention of e-cigarettes on the Consumer Protection Safety Commission's website.
CBS 5 News contacted the company that distributes Smokein T cigarettes late Tuesday with no response. Shopshire said the company has offered to replace his e-cigarette, but he doesn't want a new one.
"I think I'm done smoking, in general, because the regular cigarette can kill me via cancer and this can kill me and my family by a fire," he said.
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