AN EX-SMOKER from Abertillery had a fright when he plugged his e-cigarette battery into a laptop to charge and two minutes later the device exploded with a “two feet” high flame.

Matthew Starmore, 34, from Andrew’s Terrace, Llanhilleth, was with his 14-year-old nephew Tommy Clarke when the flame leapt up and burned for around seven seconds.

Mr Starmore said: “It scorched my nephew on the back of his arm and melted through the top of the Xbox, that’s how big the flame was. It blew the end of the battery casing off.

“It was like a massive space rocket launch. The heat was that intense. Of course it was an electrical fire as well, so we couldn’t do anything.”

“I’m very cautious with using my e-cigarette now. I have read on the internet they have blown up in people’s faces.”

Ordinary cigarettes “seem to be safer”, he joked.

Two days earlier he had bought the battery at Flavour Vapour in Cwmbran for £11.99.

Robert Roy, managing director of Flavour Vapour, said staff had tested a sample of the lithium ion batteries after the incident and had not found any problems with them.

He said despite having almost 20 shops around the UK there had been no other exploding batteries reported and said the problem could have been due to the battery being damaged after purchase.

He added: “If it’s found to be our fault, we will be giving Mr Starmore a full refund and any damages that have been caused we will make good on. We have got no problem at all with doing that because we want to look after every single one of our customers.”

Last week South Wales Fire and Rescue Service warned e-cigarette users not to leave them unattended when charging after they responded to two separate fires where the batteries from an e-cigarette had exploded and ignited the carpet.

The service warned users not to leave e-cigarettes unattended when charging and follow the advice on the safety leaflets provided with the products.