Marcus Forzani, seventeen, was carrying a vape pen in his pocket when something unexpected happened.
The vaporizer's battery exploded — an uncommon occurrence, but one that's not exactly unprecedented.
As a result, Forzani suffered second- and third-degree burns to one leg. A GoFundMe page has been created to help raise money for his medical treatment.
The incident brings new attention locally to e-cigarette batteries, whose explosive qualities have been well-documented over recent years whether the contents were tobacco or marijuana.
On the aforementioned GoFundMe page, Michael Forzani, Marcus's dad, explains what happened in the following introductory passage, which stresses the risks associated with e-cigarette batteries:
Marijuana Deals Near You
This fundraiser is to help my son and I through financial hardship and to ease the stress of recent events involving my son, who had a Mod/vapor device catch fire in his pocket and cause severe third degree burns to his leg. He has had one surgery so far and needs two more. With prayer, his leg will take to skin graph and begin long-term healing. The fundraiser is to help with current bills and for all the physical therapy travels and many visits in the future to burn therapy, etc. I'm normally not the type to accept financial help. However, at this point I'm realizing that the journey ahead will be long, stressful and difficult for my son and I. I am disabled and on a set income. I can normally handle simple things financially. However, this is no simple thing. I would like to add for those misinformed, I did not approve this device and the majority of kids tend to make the decision to go behind their parents' back. Kids will be kids and that's why together we are trying to send a message that is these devices can be dangerous and as you all have seen could be life-altering. So don't smoke, don't vape.
The page also features a close-up shot of Marcus's leg. The pic is not for the squeamish:
In addition, Marcus spoke to Fox31 about his wounds, which he suffered while at school.
“Bell rang, stood up to get my jacket, which was on the other side of the classroom, five steps within that sparks started flying out of my pocket,” he told the station. “It literally looked like someone was welding in my pocket."
He's not the only person to whom this kind of thing has happened. Back in 2014, Mother Jones documented a slew of cases during which the lithium-ion batteries used in vape pens combusted.
The magazine pointed out that laptops and cell phones also use lithium-ion batteries, but e-cigarette batteries tend to explode more frequently than those in other devices, since they're "especially prone to overheating because smokers use incompatible chargers, overcharge the e-cigarettes, or don't take sufficient safety precautions. For example, many e-cigarettes are made to plug into a USB port, which smokers may take to mean the devices can be safely charged with a computer or iPad charger. But if left too long in a common USB port, some e-cigarette batteries can fry."
Included in the article is a timeline of e-cigarette battery explosions beginning in 2012; below, see a TV report about one that took place in Mount Pleasant, Utah, circa September 2013. And a more recent piece about e-cigarette battery explosions lists thirty cases from February 2012 to August 2015.
Obviously, not all e-cigarette batteries explode as Marcus's did. But Michael, his dad, describes them as a "ticking time bomb" in the Fox31 piece on view below, followed by the aforementioned item about the 2013 explosion in Utah.
As for the GoFundMe page, just over $200 has been pledged toward a goal of $1,000 at this writing. For more information, click here.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.