'˜Hoverboard' caught fire and caused serious damage

A warning has been issued after firefighters tackled a serious fire involving a '˜hoverboard'.

Monday, 18th January 2016, 6:17 pm
Updated Monday, 18th January 2016, 6:19 pm
A hoverboard that was on charge caught fire and caused significant damage.

The fire started in Friday evening in Wyke shortly before 9pm, taking hold in the living room of a home in St Mary’s Drive.

Three children reported seeing a hoverboard, which was on charge, set alight.

The eldest, a 13-year-old boy, led the other two children, a nine-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl, to an upstairs bedroom where he dialled 999.

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A hoverboard that was on charge caught fire and caused significant damage.

The teenager followed the fire survival guidance given by the Control room and blocked the bottom of the door with materials to stop the smoke from getting into the bedroom.

On discovering the fire, a 39-year-old woman, who was also inside the home, managed to open the front door and lead the children outside.

Three fire engines arrived on the scene and firefighters put out the blaze.

Fire investigator, station manager Mark Helliwell, said: “The children were in the living room when they saw smoke coming from the hoverboard and within seconds it suddenly exploded into flames.

A hoverboard that was on charge caught fire and caused significant damage.

“This must have been quite a scary experience for them as the fire quickly took hold of the sofa and spread rapidly throughout the living room, which has been left gutted, and the rest of the house is heavily smoke logged.

“The teenager’s quick thinking actions are certainly commendable and he later said that he remembered the Fire Service advice given in his school talk in Year 5.

“Fortunately everyone was able to get out of the house without sustaining serious injury, albeit having suffered smoke inhalation.”

The subsequent fire investigation found the origin of the fire was the hoverboard, which was connected to its dedicated charging unit and was plugged into a wall socket which was in the ‘on’ position.

A hoverboard that was on charge caught fire and caused significant damage.

The exact cause of the fire is difficult to confirm due to the fire damage that the hoverboard sustained.

However, the most likely cause of this fire is from the overheating of the lithium batteries which have exploded due to them not being configured correctly, or they have overheated to the point of igniting the hoverboard unit’s internal components due to the cut-off switch within the unit failing.

Mr Helliwell added: “Although hoverboard fires have recently hit the national headlines, this is the first one that we have recorded in West Yorkshire.

“Whilst we do not wish to scaremonger, there are simple steps people can take to reduce the risk.

A hoverboard that was on charge caught fire and caused significant damage.

“Ultimately this property did not have working smoke alarms and we cannot stress to people enough how important this is.

“Having a Fire Evacuation Plan can also save you vital seconds in the event of a blaze like this.”

•Things to look out for include the shape of the plug. The first unsafe products identified often had a clover-shaped plug. Also check the device for markings or traceable information, such as the name and contact details of the manufacturer and/or importer.

•Check that the three pin plug on the device states it is made to BS 1363. If it doesn’t include this information, then don’t buy the product.

•Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on charging. If the handbook is badly translated or contains multiple spelling mistakes then it is likely to have come from an untrustworthy source.

•Never leave a hoverboard unattended whilst charging.

•Never charge a hoverboard when you go to bed.

•Be careful where you charge the hoverboard. Never charge near soft furnishings or other combustibles.

•If possible charge in a garage on a concrete floor.

•Never leave the product on charge for extended periods as the charging cut-off device can fail causing the battery to overheat.

If you do suspect any sellers, websites or products of being unsafe we urge you to report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.