Fire caused by e-cigarettes
The damage that was caused by an exploding e-cigarette in Runcorn in April this yearCheshire Fire and Rescue Service

A "highly disturbing" spate of exploding e-cigarette chargers has prompted a nationwide alert encouraging consumers to avoid using "dodgy" chargers.

The warning issued by the Local Government Association (LGA) comes as new figures revealed that UK fire services have attended 113 calls to e-cigarette-related blazes since 2012.

Fire bosses say many explosions occur because smokers are not using compatible chargers which sometimes allow too much current to go into the batteries causing them to overheat and catch fire.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, The group's fire services management committee chair, said: "The recent spate of fires connected with e-cigarettes is highly disturbing and we are issuing a nationwide alert to users to be vigilant at all times.

"We are warning them that it is simply not worth risking their lives to save a few pounds by buying dodgy, dangerous or incompatible chargers.

"Fire authorities all over the country are being called out more regularly to these types of incidents.

"Alarmingly, there is no way of knowing the true figure as we understand many cases are going unreported."

The LGA estimate that two million Britons are using e-cigarettes each year, but the number of fires caused by faulty chargers has also increased.

There were just eight call outs in 2012, but the number rose to 43 in 2013 - with 62 in 2014.

The LGA, which represents 49 fire and rescue authorities in England and Wales, fears that these are just the "tip of the iceberg".

They are also calling for e-cigarette manufacturers to do more to warn of the dangers of faulty chargers.

In August 2014 the death of a Merseyside man was attributed to a fire involving an e-cigarette which had been charging in his bedroom when it exploded and caught fire, according to the BBC.

Myles Platt, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service area manager said after the tragedy: "At least one life appears to have been claimed and more fatalities could follow unless users become more aware of the risks and take sensible precautions.

"We urge people to always use electrical equipment in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and guidance.

"Always ensure that no electrical items are left charging overnight or left unattended for a long period when being charged, and do not mix parts from different e-cigarettes."

In April, a Runcorn e-cigarette user returned to discover plumes of thick, black acrid smoke pouring from his ground-floor flat after an e-cigarette charger exploded.