7 Investigates: Cigarette lighters spark concerns - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

7 Investigates: Cigarette lighters spark concerns

(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)
(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)
(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)

It was a sight Lucas Carrington says he's never seen or heard before.

"I just heard a pow and it just shot across the porch," Carrington said.

He's talking about his cigarette lighter. He says Thursday he was sitting on his porch lightly tapping the lighter when...

"I felt something explode in my hand and the lighter just shot across the porch," Carrington said.

His neighbor Kimberly Mason says something similar happened to her husband Thursday afternoon. She says he left his lighter in the car while he was at work.

"He thought somebody had played a joke on him when he opened the door because there was blue glass all over. Whenever the lighter exploded, it cut holes in the headliner in the vehicle itself, if someone would have been in there they could have gotten hurt," Mason said.

These two incidents occurred within hours of each other and lighter explosions are happening across the nation.

"Anything that's built to be thrown away, there is a concern when it holds a combustible liquid," said Johnny Zackary, Fire Marshal with the Longview Fire Department

In 2012 a complaint in Waxahachie read, "I picked up a MK lighter, when I went to light it, it blew up in my face burning my hair, face, neck area and my arm.”

In 2013 in Rochester, New York, someone complained "After lighting the cigarette, I placed the lighter on the picnic bench that I was sitting on. About 3 minutes after I, hear a whoosh sound and see flames next to me.”

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, lighter malfunctions cause two deaths and nearly one thousand injuries each year.

Carrington says he typically pays anywhere from 79 cents to a dollar for his lighters.

"They're cheap, readily available and easy to pick up," Carrington said.

But the neighbors tell me they bought their lighters at different stores and they are different brands,

Carrington uses a King lighter and Mason had a MK.

Both lighters are made overseas and according to the CPSC, around 75 percent of lighters in the U.S. are foreign-made.

And like MK lighters, nearly 60 percent of them come from China.

Some lighter explosions may be due to overheating.

"If a lighter becomes too hot, the vapors can expand and those expanding vapors can result in a small explosion," Zackary said.

Others could be due to a malfunction of the valve - when you think it's off, the lighter is still producing a small flame.

The CPSC tested 50 retail models sold in the U.S. and found half of them didn't achieve passing results.

After years of investigating the problem, the CPSC still only has voluntary standards companies are asked to follow, leaving the door open for potentially dangerous products to be in a store near you.

It is important to note most American manufacturers have adopted those standards. Since 1973, there have been 54 recalls involving lighters. MK and King are not included.

Fire officials suggest to keep lighters out your pockets and out of hot cars to avoid any incidents.

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