****WARNING**** There are graphic photos and video in this story that show burns after a vape pen battery exploded in a man’s pocket
TAPPAHANNOCK, VA (WWBT) - A man in Tappahannock says the battery to his vape exploded in his pocket, causing him third degree burns.
Chase Billmyer, 22, said he was flown to VCU Medical Center after the battery randomly exploded in the pocket of his shorts, while he was mowing the lawn in August.
"It sounded like a gunshot,” described Billmyer of the moment the battery exploded.
Billmyer said nothing else, not even change, was in the pocket with the battery.
Flames quickly consumed his pants.
"It was almost like I didn’t believe what my eyes were seeing,” Billmyer said.
He tore off his shorts and ran to nearby homes for help, where a neighbor called 911.
Billmyer was first taken to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital and then flown to VCU for more intensive treatment.
He’s had two surgeries, including a skin graft, using skin from his right thigh, and weeks in the hospital. Now, he’s left with massive scars and a hospital bill that’s more than $250,000 and doesn’t have medical insurance.
He also wasn’t able to find the exploded battery in the lawn and attorneys told him there was a slim chance at recovering any damages.
"They said that since they didn’t find the rest of the battery, that there was nothing they could do…that the battery company could just say that it wasn’t their battery,” said Billmyer.
NBC12′s On Your Side investigators have reported on the dangers of lithium batteries randomly exploding, causing severe injuries. Vape and e-cigarette shop owners warn that if your battery is damaged or torn, immediately replace it. Don’t buy the cheap batteries from overseas. Although, Billmyer said the battery he used was at least $20. Finally, make sure you don’t expose the battery to extreme hot or cold temperatures, or leave it in your pocket.
Billmyer said he’s no longer using a vape and has started an online fundraiser to help pay for his massive medical bills.
"That was probably the most painful thing I endured,” said Billmyer.