A WOMAN was lucky to avoid serious injury after an e-cigarette battery exploded in her coat pocket and caught fire.

The drama unfolded on Saturday night at a busy pub in Swanage High Street.

The woman, whose identity is unknown, was at the Ship Inn when a spare lithium battery was short-circuited by some loose change in her pocket, sparking the explosion.

The fire alarm was set off, and pub staff called 999 for an ambulance and the fire service.

Firefighters from Swanage Fire Station were the first to arrive following a call just before 7.40pm. They provided first aid until paramedics arrived.

The woman suffered burns to her leg and stomach, but her injuries could have been more severe according to station manager Graham Kewley, of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“The lady affected was lucky not to suffer more serious injuries, as the explosion could have easily resulted in shrapnel-type wounds to the leg.

“There have been similar incidents elsewhere that have resulted in fatalities, so it is vital that vape users take real care with how they carry and store batteries.”

“We believe that a spare lithium battery in a coat pocket was short-circuited by loose change,” he added.

The woman was treated at the scene for her burns and did not need to be taken to hospital.

The manager of the Ship Inn pub, Ross Barby, said when the woman’s battery exploded, nobody knew at first what had happened.

“It set off the alarm, and it took us a few seconds to work out what had happened,” he said.

“The battery just blew up in her pocket. The lithium battery reacted with the coins in her pocket.

“We called the fire service and they were in the pub for about 45 minutes.

“I’ve seen the woman in the pub a few times before, although I haven’t seen her since this happened.

“She only had a few minor injuries, but it was weird what happened.”

The fire service is offering advice to people who use e-cigarettes.

They are warning people never to carry batteries loose or with other items which could cause the battery to short-circuit. People should never leave e-cigarettes on charge and unattended for long periods or overnight. They should only use the supplied charger and not mix components of different e-cigarettes.