Ogden man says exploding e-cigarette may have caused Christmas morning fire

Friday , December 25, 2015 - 4:41 PM

By MARK SAAL and BENJAMIN ZACK
Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — A malfunctioning e-cigarette may have caused a Christmas morning house fire that has displaced a family of five.

The Ogden City Fire Department was called to a fire at 984 N. Orchard Ave. at 9:43 a.m. Friday, Dec. 25, where they found “a heavy amount of smoke,” according to Deputy Fire Chief Eric Bauman. He said two adults and three children were already outside the home when crews arrived. One person was medically evaluated at the scene, but didn’t require further treatment.

One of the adults in the home, Anthony Bell, told the Standard-Examiner he was using an e-cigarette in a back room of the house when it exploded in his face. Thinking he might have battery acid on his face, Bell said he went to wash out his eyes in the kitchen sink.

Within “20 seconds,” the other adult, Shanda Miller, noticed smoke coming from the back room, she said.

Miller said she entered the room and found the crib on fire, and that no one else was in the room at the time.

Bauman said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

The couple reported their 9-month-old daughter was in the kitchen at the time and their 4-year-old boy was in another room. A third child, a 6-year-old girl, was not in the home at the time of the fire.

“It’s such an unfortunate thing on Christmas morning,” Bauman said. “I’m told the majority of damage from this one is smoke damage.”

Bauman said firefighters retrieved Christmas presents from the home. 

“Our firefighters went in attacking the fire,” he said, “but understanding the nature of Christmas Day, they were also able to get all the presents out of the house.”

However, the family reports that while some of the presents were saved, others were destroyed. The couple was at the home Friday afternoon to see if some of the remaining presents could be salvaged.

A total of 17 firefighters from the Ogden and North View fire departments responded with two ladder trucks, two engines, an ambulance and a paramedic rescue vehicle. No firefighters were injured in the incident. 

The American Red Cross was on scene Friday morning, and Bauman said the organization would offer to help take care of the family’s immediate needs. The family indicated they would be temporarily staying with Bell’s mother.

“The biggest thing for us is that the family is taken care of and has everything they need on Christmas Day,” Bauman said. “If they need anything extra, like a meal prepared or something, we’re happy to do that for them.”

Initial damage to the home was estimated to be $40,000.

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