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E-Cig battery ignites in Airman’s pocket

These e-cigarette batteries and dog tag chain ignited in Airman 1st Class Drake Baker’s flight suit pocket Oct. 26, 2016 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Baker is a student at the 19th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melanie Holochwost)

These e-cigarette batteries and dog tag chain ignited in Airman 1st Class Drake Baker’s flight suit pocket Oct. 26, 2016 at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Baker is a student at the 19th Special Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melanie Holochwost)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- A student at the 19th Special Operations Squadron had an incident with an e-cigarette here Oct. 26.

Airman 1st Class Drake Baker, who will be an airborne intelligence operator at the 25th Intelligence Squadron, said he was just sitting in class when his extra set of E-Cig batteries caught on fire in his pocket.

His instructor, Staff Sgt. Robert Santangelo, immediately noticed since it was just the two of them in the classroom.

“I turned around and saw smoke coming from the chest pocket of his flight suit,” he said. “I told Baker to put on his gloves before he removed the batteries from his pocket, so he wouldn’t get burned.”

Santangelo said Baker was having a difficult time, so he removed it for him.

“I was afraid it was going to blow up, so I took the batteries and ran outside the building,” he said. “I’ve seen all kinds of videos on social media with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and E-Cigs exploding, so I didn’t want to take any chances.”

Baker said he thinks the fire was caused because his dog tags were in his pocket with the batteries. Just a little bit of walking around created friction.

“The dog tags basically completed a circuit,” he said. “I wasn’t injured, but I got burnt plastic on my hands. And, the batteries burnt through my flight suit and gave me a small burn on my chest.”

As of Oct. 1, ECigOne.com found 193 reports of e-cig explosions. Of those, 29 involved spare batteries like Baker. The majority, 77, happened during charging.

Baker said he has smoked E-Cigs for about two years, but between this incident and being sick, he thinks it’s a good time to quit.