An e-cigarette explosion inside McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas triggered pandemonium as passengers abandoned their belongings and ran for emergency exits, fearing a bomb attack.
The explosion occurred about 1:15 in the afternoon April 15, filling the air with smoke and reverberating throughout Terminal 1.
One airline passenger waiting for a flight to the East Coast told KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas that “It was a panic. People were fearful.”
The explosion reportedly occurred at a charging station near Gate D54 in Terminal 1. The Clark County Fire Department and Las Vegas Police responded to the emergency and said that the e-cigarette was charging at the charge station when it exploded as people were waiting to board a United flight.
An airport official can be heard trying to calm passengers, announcing that the explosion stemmed from an e-cigarette and that authorities were working to figure out what triggered the explosion.
E-cigarettes, vape pens, and other vape devices are prone to explode for a number of reasons. Las Vegas authorities said the e-cigarette that exploded in the airport was overcharged. Firefighters cleared the scene and nobody was injured.
The rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power e-cigarettes are almost always to blame in e-cigarette explosions. The vape industry usually blames the e-cigarette user for these malfunctions by claiming that the wrong charger was used or the batteries weren’t right for the device or may have been improperly stored.
Essentially, however, e-cigarette batteries are inherently unsafe when they can so easily explode because of a manufacturing defect, damage, or a user mistake, such as charging the device too long.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits e-cigarettes from being stored in checked luggage because of the propensity for their batteries to explode. The devices can be carried into the cabin of the airplane.
The e-cigarette explosion wasn’t the first to occur at McCarran International Airport. In April 2017, romance novelist Scott Hildreth suffered severe burn injuries when an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket while he and his wife were buying snacks in the gate area. He suffered extensive third-degree burns on his leg and hands from the explosion and underwent skin grafts at the UMC Burn Unit in Las Vegas.
E-cigarette explosions have also triggered panic and caused travel disruptions in Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport, and Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, in addition to multiple incidents aboard airplanes.