Mara McInerney said she was terrified when a battery in her purse exploded as she shopped at the Freehold Raceway Mall on Sunday. Now she wants other vape users to be aware of the possibility of their battery doing the same thing.

She was shopping at the Sunglass Hut store on the mall's second level when the lithium battery in a pocket in her purse exploded.

"It caused a lot of damage. It was very dramatic," the Old Bridge resident said.

McInerney noted that she was in an air-conditioned mall, not a hot car, when the battery exploded.

"I've been very careful, very cautious. I never heard of the batteries exploding or the vapes exploding. I just want everyone to be careful," McInerney said.

In security video obtained by New Jersey 101.5, McInerney is seen standing on the right side of the counter when black smoke begins to billow out of her purse on the counter. The cashier runs away and McInerney steps back. She then grabs the purse and dumps its contents onto the floor.

"The bag was in flames. When you saw me moving my hands my fingertips were burned. I was trying to put out the flames because everyone ran out of the store. I really don't blame them."

The date of the incident — Sunday, Sept. 11—was on McInerney's mind.

"I was in a mall, I heard a bang, next thing I know there's smoke in my face. I couldn't imagine what caused the fire in my purse. I thought maybe someone dropped something into my bag. It took me a minute to register. That's why I dumped everything out. What happened?"

McInerney, who said she had been vaping for about a year, wants other vape users to be cautious because it could happen to them.

"They use these batteries around their children, and I have a child myself. God forbid my daughter was grabbing a lollipop at that moment, her face could have been blown off. Just be mindful and be careful."

A 2014 report by the U.S. Fire Administration recommends that users “always use the charging appliance that comes with the (vaping) unit and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Plugging an e-cigarette into a ‘standard’ USB port to recharge may result in an explosion and/or fire.”

"I'm not blaming anyone. It's a freak thing. People should just be cautions. Someone could lose a hand. Someone could get burned. People should just have awareness," McInerney said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.