COLUMBUS, Neb. — A Columbus man almost lost an ear after he says an electronic cigarette blew up in his face.

Andrew Bruhn, 29, was in his garage Nov. 9 when his e-cig stopped working properly. He thought the battery might be dead, so he put a new battery in.

“[I] put it in the mod, stuck it to my ear to listen to see if it was going to fire, hit the button and it just blew up,” he said.

Bruhn was rushed to a hospital emergency room with first-degree burns to his eye and first and second-degree burns to his face. After debating whether his ear would need to be amputated, he said, doctors were able to save it after putting in 18 stitches.

According to the most recent report by the U.S. Fire Administration, 25 e-cig explosions have been documented in the United States. The report says no regulation, code or law applies to the electronics or batteries in e-cigarettes, something Bruhn hopes will change.

“[Companies should] make it safer so it doesn’t happen to somebody else … where it’s next to their ear, even in their mouth,” he said.

While there are no current FDA regulations, a local vape store owner says it’s protocol to give safety tips to customers buying e-cigs.

“As far as the battery manufacturers, they give us information on how to charge it, and of course we pass that on to the customer,” Jason Jakub said.

Bruhn and his family are contacting the battery company, Efest, and the e-cig manufacturer, hoping that action will be taken to make the product safer. Efest’s website says the company is based out of Guangdong, China, but the phone number listed under contact information is an “invalid extension.”

Bruhn is also waiting to find out if he has permanent hearing damage because of the incident.

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