Two Young Girls Die in Tragic Fire Reportedly Caused by Hoverboard
Self-balancing scooters, more popularly known as “hoverboards” are now the subject of a federal investigation following the deaths of two young girls. The children sustained fatal burn injuries from a fire that was reportedly caused by a hoverboard. The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is now investigating whether the hoverboard attributed to the fire was one of the brands that was recalled in 2016.
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Previously, there have been reports of hoverboard fires in both the United States and abroad. However, this is the first time a hoverboard-related fire has resulted in death in the U.S. The first victim was a 3-year-old girl, who died on the night of the fire. Her 10-year-old sister died several days later; she sustained burns covering 95 percent of her body.
Unfortunately, the hoverboard fire was also indirectly associated with another death. A 21-year veteran fire fighter died in a car crash while responding to the fire. He was reportedly struck by a 19-year-old driving a stolen vehicle.
According to Fire Chief Brian Enterline, the fire was caused by a rechargeable hoverboard plugged into an electrical outlet on the first floor.
“They heard some sizzling and crackling in the hoverboard and, shortly thereafter, it exploded in flames,” he said, according to UPI.
Enterline advised caution with regards to the products, stating at a news conference, “We would ask if you are using these things and they are knock-off brands, please not use them,”
“We’ve seen too many fires and too many fire fatalities as a result of these hoverboards.”
The CPSC is probing whether the hoverboard was included in the hoverboard recall issued last year.
Lawmakers are also commenting on the hoverboards in light of the tragic deaths. In an open letter to acting CPSC chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle, Senators Robert P. Casey, Jr. (Pennsylvania) and Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) wrote “While we understand that according to CPSC data this was the first fatal fire caused by a hoverboard, the dangers of defective hoverboard batteries are well known,”
“We urge you to identify whether the hoverboard involved was included in the July 2016 recall … based on the results of its investigation, CPSC should consider whether the July 2016 recall needs to be expanded and if the current voluntary standard adequately protects consumers.”
Buerkle issued a statement on Mar. 16, stating “My thoughts and prayers are with the two children,”
“An important part of our investigation is determining the make and model of the hoverboard. We want to know whether the hoverboard was a previously recalled model or a different model that would need further analysis by CPSC technical staff. I urge consumers who own a hoverboard to check to see if it has been recalled.”
In her statement, Buerkle urged consumers who own hoverboards to check whether their product is affected by the recall, which remains active.
Due to Fire Hazard, Half a Million Hoverboards Recalled
In July 2016, CPSC announced a recall affecting 501,000 hoverboards and 10 different companies. The self-balancing scooters were recalled because they present a fire risk if the lithium-ion battery overheats. The recall alert states, “The lithium-ion battery packs in the self-balancing scooters/hoverboards can overheat, posing a risk of the products smoking, catching fire and/or exploding.”
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At the time, the agency said it knew of at least 99 reports where the battery pack overheated, sparked, smoked, caught fire and/or exploded. These hoverboard fires were associated with burn injuries and property damage.
The CPSC urged consumers to stop using the recalled hoverboards and to contact companies for a refund, repair, or replacement.
The recalled hoverboards were sold from June 2015 through May 2016. They were priced between $350 and $900.
The recalled hoverboards contain batteries and internal components that have not undergone safety testing by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent product safety testing lab. Now, UL has developed a new protocol specifically targeting hoverboards.
Last month, after months of investigation, CPSC declared hoverboards to be unsafe.
Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit
If you or someone you know is interested in filing a product liability lawsuit over an allegedly defective or unsafe product, contact Parker Waichman today. Our experienced product liability attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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