Published On: Thu, Dec 10th, 2015

Safety Officials Warn of Dangers After Hoverboard Catches Fire in Boca

By CRA News Service

Hoverboards are literally and figuratively the hottest holiday gift on sale this Christmas.

And safety experts are warning shoppers to do some research before buying them.

That’s because the popular two-wheeled self-balancing scooters are unexpectedly bursting into flames.

“Some of the units are not safe,” said Boca Raton Fire Rescue assistant chief Mike Lasalle. “Be careful what you purchase.”

Lasalle urged parents to make sure the toys are UL approved before buying them for their children.

At least three of the gadgets – which are actually on every kid’s wish list this year – have been the cause of fire in as many weeks, according to news reports.

On Saturday, Nov. 28, an 11-year-old Boca Raton girl was riding the gadget when she felt it become hot under her feet, Pamela Levine said of her daughter. The child immediately hopped off and that’s when the toy “crackled, popped, burst into flames,” Levine told WPTV CH-5.

She felt it get hot, she jumped off, and it was in flames,” Levine said.

The first incident occurred Nov. 21 when, another hoverboard exploded in New Orleans.

Jessica Horne said the fire almost burned her house down after her 12-year-old son had the hoverboard for just one day.

“Both wheels – It was like fireworks. I could see sparks just flying,” she told WGNO TV. “And before I could yell ‘the house is on fire,’ the middle part of the board that was going between your feet – just ‘poof.’ Into flames.”

Horne bought the “Fit Turbo” version of the device, according to the report.

The latest fire occurred Nov. 29 when a hoverboard burst into flames in Gulf Shores, Alabama, just three days after it arrived at its owner’s house, according to news reports.

“I came outside turned it on, came down the sidewalk not even a 100 feet, and it exploded,” Tim Cade told WKRG TV. “Batteries started shooting out of it; you would not expect a fire like that to come out of a little thing like that. I was not expecting something like that.”

British authorities recently seized more than 15,000 hoverboards at ports and airports as a safety measure after fire officials responded to fires caused by the rollerboards, CNBC reported. And since Oct. 15, the U.K. Trading Standards, Britain’s equivalent to the Federal Trade Commission, inspected more than 17,000 hoverboards and seized 88 percent over fears they could explode or catch fire, according to the news station.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission officials cautioned buyers against leaving hoverboards unattended while charging their batteries.

Some of the electric vehicles allow users to steer them using their feet and can go up to 10 mph. They currently retails anywhere from about $200 to about $2,000.

Boca Raton’s Levine bought the hoverboard on Amazon but was not able to discover who manufactured the product.

The incidents have caught the attention of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“We are looking at the entire product line,” Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told The Advocate newspaper in Alabama.

The CPSC said consumers should report any product safety issues.

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