Students evacuate residence hall after smoking device causes fire

Florence Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at Rivers Hall at approximately 9:10 p.m. Jan. 15 after an electronic smoking device battery overheated in a resident’s room.

Firefighters found an active fire on the fifth floor and contained it quickly. There are no reports of any injuries.

“I live in Rivers (Hall) and all I really know is that it was a vape battery that exploded,” said junior Jasmine Culliver.

Students in the residence hall evacuated in response to the fire alarm. Firefighters extinguished the fire quickly and students were allowed back into the building, according to an email from Kimberly Greenway, interim vice president for student affairs.

Six students were relocated due to the incident, however only three rooms are inaccessible at this time.

“They had us in Covington Hall for about two hours while they cleaned things up,” Culliver said.

While the use of an electronic smoking device is prohibited on campus, having one in possession is not. University officials are investigating to determine if there were any policy violations, according to the email from Greenway.

University officials are currently assessing the needs of the displaced students.

Most vapes are powered by a lithium ion battery. Lithium ion batteries can pose a fire hazard if left in certain pressurized areas, such as the baggage compartment of a plane, according to

Lithium batteries can also overheat if exposed to outside heat sources, such as direct sunlight, short circuits or overcharging.

If individuals realize his or her vaping device is overheating, move it away from other flammable objects and place it on a hard, non-combustible surface. Remove the battery if possible, and let it ‘burn out’ outside. If it starts to catch fire, use a fire extinguisher on a lithium-metal battery or use water or a non-alcoholic liquid to prevent the fire from spreading.

The Federal Register confirms that the FDA has been concerned by reports of exploding e-cigarettes and has provided a draft guidance on the safety requirements that companies will need to follow.

For example, the FDA says that the product labeling should include text or a graphic to show users should recharge the product only with specified chargers to minimize the risk of battery failure. As of right now, these guidelines haven’t been finalized yet.