Family left homeless after teen daughter's 'dead' vape set house on fire
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Three family members and their dog have all been left homeless after a vape which was thought to have run out of battery sparked a fire that left the house beyond repair.
When the smoke alarms around Heidi Johnson's home started wailing at around 7.15pm on 15 April, the mum originally thought there must have just been some technical issue with the devices.
She was downstairs at the rented home with her four-year-old son and a friend while her 16-year-old daughter had nipped to the shop, but when Heidi went upstairs to find the source of the alarm, she 'couldn't see anything' except black.
"I saw a bit of a light coming out of my daughter's bedroom," Heidi said. "I pushed the door back and it was all up in flames. I never expected it. When I saw it I screamed."
The mum shouted to her friend and her son to get out of the house, and the fire brigade was called to tackle the flames.
At first, the firefighters thought the fire was caused by a gas leak, but it was later thought to have been caused by a cherry cola-flavoured vape which Heidi's daughter had put in the bin in her room after it ran out of battery.
"It turned out it was my daughter's vape, but it had been there for ages," Heidi said. "She said it was dead. The thing is, my daughter wasn't even allowed vapes in the house."
Though Heidi had banned vapes, she doesn't blame her daughter, who is 'devastated' and 'absolutely heartbroken', for the incident.
"The fire brigade said it was the lithium in the battery that had leaked out of the vape and caused the fire," she said.
With the upstairs of the home destroyed by the smoke and fire and the downstairs suffering from water damage, Heidi has now been forced to sleep in her car with the dog while the kids stay with friends.
"I can't even go in the house, even if I wanted to get something out, it's so dangerous," she said. "It's sickening, I'm 37 years old and I've got nothing apart from my car, it's horrible.
"It's all gone, it burnt everything. The kids have no toys or everyday things. We've been left completely homeless, it's really affecting my kids. I just want to be normal and back with my kids."
The mum is now sharing her story as a warning to others, urging people to dispose properly of vapes.
"I'll survive. I'm here and alive. Just don't vape. At the end of the day, it isn't worth it," she said.
"Something so dangerous and there's no proper disposal bins for them, they're just getting thrown left, right, and centre...
"I just don't want this to happen to anyone else. You don't think it can happen, I never even knew it could happen."
The family is now waiting to find alternative accommodation, and a fundraiser has been set up to help them get back on their feet. You can donate here.