Breaking News
More () »

St. Pete man's death may be the first from an exploding vaping pen

Investigators say injuries to his face indicate his e-cigarette may have exploded and caused the fire.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — “Wake” D’Elia's death may be the nation’s first death from an exploding vaping pen.

D'Elia, 38, was found dead in his Old Northeast home after a neighbor reported seeing smoke and flames from a side window.

Investigators say injuries to D'Elia's face indicate his e-cigarette may have exploded and caused the fire.

The popularity of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices is increasing, especially among young people.

Exploding e-cigarettes and pens are extremely rare, and most explosions center around the battery, but they happen enough to cause concern at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal agency recently put out a fact sheet with some safety recommendations:

  • Never carry e-cig batteries loose in your pocket, especially where they might come into contact with coins, keys or other metal objects which can cause the battery to short out.
  • Never use you phone or tablet charger. Use the charger that originally came with the device.
  • Don’t charge your vape device while sleeping or leave it unattended.
  • Charge it on a flat surface away from anything that can catch fire. Don’t charge it on your couch or bed.
  • Always replace the batteries if they get damaged or wet.
  • Always use batteries recommended for your device and don’t mix and match different brands or mix old and new batteries.
  • Never alter your device or disable the safety features like fire button locks or vent holes.
  • Protect your vape from extreme temperatures by not leaving it in direct sunlight or in a freezing car overnight.

D’Elia spent much of his career as a television producer with CNBC before moving to St. Petersburg to freelance.

His parents were out of town when this incident took place and are eager to find out what happened.

“Anybody who has lost a son doesn’t want somebody else to lose a child to something like this,” said Christopher D’Elia, his father.

It could be a week or more before D'Elia cause of death is determined.

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.

Have a news tip? Email tips@wtsp.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Before You Leave, Check This Out