Published: 17:00, 08 December 2014
An e-cigarette exploded and set fire to a family's home after it was plugged into the wrong charger, destroying Christmas presents and causing extensive damage.
Yesterday evening Terry Skinner, of Alexandra Road, in Sheerness, put his e-cigarette on charge using a charger not designed for that particular model.
Within 10 minutes the internal battery exploded and set fire to the bedroom.
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Mr Skinner said: “I’d put my kids to bed and put the e-cigarette on charge. About five minutes later I heard a bang, I just assumed it was our neighbours moving things about. I heard another bang so went upstairs and opened our bedroom door to find the blaze.”
KFRS Watch Manager, Andy Bridger-Smart said: “When we arrived we were faced with a fire well alight in the front bedroom. The fire caused 80% damage to the room; the rest of the upstairs has extensive smoke damage.”
Terry, 25, and his fiancee Tara Austin, 22, lost everything in their upstairs bedroom in including gifts for their three-year-old son Logan and one-year-old daughter Sapphire.
But within 24 hours generous islanders stepped in to donate clothing and Christmas presents to the family, following a facebook appeal.
“They’ve been absolutely brilliant. So generous. It’s good to know there are people out there willing to help others in a time of crisis" - Terry Skinner
One person even offered to put them up for the night and a neighbour who saw the blaze offered a black sack with clothing and nappies inside while the house was still alight.
Mr Skinner said: “They’ve been absolutely brilliant. So generous. It’s good to know there are people out there willing to help others in a time of crisis.
“It came as a bit of a surprise. My main concern was making sure my kids were safe. My niece and mother-in-law put something on Facebook and the response we have got is unbelievable.
“I just want to let them know how grateful and thankful we are. Words can’t describe. There are a lot more kindhearted people out there than you think.
“It’s just one of them shocking things that you don’t realise is going to happen to you.”
The family is now staying with Miss Austin’s mother in Sittingbourne.
Video: The damage to the Skinners' home
Following the blaze, Kent Fire and Rescue Service has urged people who use e-cigarettes to make sure they follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when it comes to charging them.
In 2012, there were just eight emergency service call-outs to e-cigarette fires but the figure rose to 43 last year and there have been at least 62 so far in 2014.