Detroit police officer suffers 3rd-degree burns after e-cig battery explodes in pocket

Lt. Howard Phillips suffers serious burns on thigh

DETROIT – A Detroit police officer suffered second- and third-degree burns Friday when a rechargeable e-cigarette battery exploded in his pocket.

The tiny e-cigarette battery left Lt. Howard Phillips with serious burns on his leg and destroyed his uniform pants.

"It's an intense pain that I've never experienced in my life," Phillips said.

The burns on his thighs make even the simplest movements difficult. Phillips was at a Police Academy graduation Friday when the rechargeable battery for his e-cigarette burst into flames.

"I felt something explode," Phillips said. "I saw sparks."

The pain didn't register at first, but then Phillips said he felt the heat. He quickly left the ceremony and took himself to the hospital. He will likely need skin grafts.


After smoking for nearly 30 years, Phillips quit last year and started using e-cigarettes. He warned others about using the product and said he'll be quitting for good.

You can see images of Phillips' burns below. One of the images of the serious burns might be considered graphic.

You can watch Priya Mann's full story in the video posted above.

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