A fire that burned two people and caused damage to a Smithfield home has been linked to a battery for an electronic or e-cigarette.
Around 1:00 pm Thursday, the Smithfield Fire Department and Johnston County EMS responded to a fire in the 300 block of South Fourth Street in Smithfield.
Authorities say a man had a battery for an e-cigarette in his pocket. The battery made contact with a metal source inside his pocket igniting his clothing.
The male victim was burned by the flames and transported to the Burn Center at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill. A second person who was injured trying to extinguish the fire was transported to Wake Medical Center. Neither injury was considered to be life threatening. The residence sustained minimal damage.
Assistant Johnston County Fire Marshal Banks Wallace said e-cigarette batteries can discharge a large amount of energy in a short amount of time. When they come in contact with a metal source, outside the intended use, they can be dangerous.
The battery that sparked the fire was made in China. A warning from the manufacturer reportedly recommends the battery, when not in use, should be stored inside a plastic cover to prevent it from discharging.