Authorities believe exploding vape pen led to man's death

Sunday, May 6, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Authorities in Florida are investigating the death of a man after they believe an exploding vape pen caused a deadly house fire.

Tallmadge Wakeman D'elia, 38, was killed in a house fire which authorities believe began after his vape pen exploded.

"It's like having a small, little larger than, a firecracker in your hand. It can explode and at that point, it can project either the pieces of the lighter itself or the vape pen they become pieces of flying debris and shrapnel," Deputy Frida Marshall Steven Lawrence told WFTS.

If this is indeed what happened, it could be the first vape pen explosion death in the nation.

A FEMA report from 2000 to 2016 shows there were nearly 200 vape pen explosions, but no one was killed and 29 percent of the victims suffered severe injuries.

Lawrence says it's because explosions can happen if the lithium battery overheats. When they do explode, the shape of the device makes them behave like "flaming rockets."

D'elia's neighbor, Dale Kleine, who also had to identify D'elia after the house fire says this incident has shaken her, "make sure that people know these things are not as safe as they think they are."

Authorities are expecting to get an official cause of death by early this week.


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