Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 April 2020

Dubai dad badly burnt after vape device explodes in pocket

Graham Tooby has undergone skin grafts and battled infection since the accident last month

A father was left with severe burns and unable to work after a vape device exploded in his trouser pocket.

Graham Tooby, 48, was injured when the device burst into flames at his home in Dubailand.

The accident happened during a party for friends and relatives on New Year's Eve.

He said he did not know what caused the device to explode but believed the lithium battery was damaged.

My brother-in-law tipped the water from a cool box over my leg to put it out but it was a chemical burn

Graham Tooby

“My trousers were on fire and there was a big blue burning flame over my upper thigh,” he told The National, after going through seven weeks of hospital visits and skin grafts to treat the burns.

“My brother-in-law tipped the water from a cool box over my leg to put it out but because it was a chemical burn the pain didn’t stop."

Mr Tooby, a photographer from England who lives in Dubai with his wife and two children, said the device made a noise before it burst into flames.

“There was a horrible hissing sound, like something was crackling, coming from my pocket,” he said.

“I took the trousers off and could see there were already marks to my leg.

“It all happened so fast that I was in shock and didn’t really know what was happening.”

His family phoned an ambulance and he was taken to hospital where his burns were treated, but they later became infected.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Graham Tooby with his vape which explodes inside his pocket leaving him with chemical burns and unable to work for two months. Ruel Pableo for The National
Graham must visit the hospital every three days to have bandages changed after his burns became infected. Ruel Pableo for The National

He has required the use of a wheelchair at various times since the accident.

"I was in hospital for four days and have to go back every three days to have the dressing changed,” he said.

“I had to get a skin graft and have not been able to work for the past two months.”

Mr Tooby said he bought the device while on holiday in France. He said he believed the burns would have been worse if he was wearing material that could have melted into his leg.

“You should always check the battery, if there’s been any sign of damage just throw it out,” he said.

“I would also advise people not to place them in your pockets because they can go off like a rocket.

“You should keep them in a separate bag or purse.”

The sale of vape devices and e-cigarettes became legal in the UAE in April 2019.

According to the World Health Organisation, the number of vapers across the world grew from seven million in 2011 to 41 million by 2018.

“It has been so traumatic and it has left us all so angry,” said his wife, Kate, 39.

“He has not been able to work for seven weeks and it’s upset the children to see their dad in a wheelchair.

“We’ve been in and out of hospital since it happened and we don’t want anyone else to suffer what we’ve had to go through.”

She said she could not forget the pain her husband endured.

“He just kept saying it wouldn’t stop burning. His leg was black and blistered," she said.

Updated: February 24, 2020 03:35 PM

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