Product Liability

Hoverboard Fires Damage Homes in Alameda, Sonoma Counties

hoverboard burned CPSC image 308x210 Hoverboard Fires Damage Homes in Alameda, Sonoma CountiesA San Leandro, Calif., home was severely damaged by a house fire that investigators believe was likely caused by a charging hoverboard.

The Jan. 30 fire is one of the latest disasters blamed on the two-wheeled, self-balancing boards, which spiked in popularity in the weeks before Christmas.

Hoverboards have drawn a lot of criticism in recent months not just for their tendency to cause broken bones, sprains, cuts, bruises, and head injuries, but also for their electrical components, which can cause the boards to burst into flames and explode during charging and sometimes while in use.

Firefighters responded to the fire at the San Leandro home about 3 p.m. Saturday. According to Alameda County Fire Department, nobody was in the two-story home when the fire broke out and no injuries were reported. Investigators found the charred hoverboard in the area of the house where the fire started. They reported that the hoverboard had been charging since Friday evening.

The fire followed two other Bay Area fires in recent weeks, both in Sonoma County.

A Petaluma homeowner told San Francisco’s KTVU that he bought a hoverboard for his daughter in November. She rode and charged the device without incident until Jan. 25, when it exploded violently.

“The whole hallway lit up bright orange and the light was coming from my daughter’s room around the corner,” the homeowner told KTVU. He said the hoverboard, plugged into an outlet at the time, was hissing and spewing fire.

“Parts of the machine were ricocheting off the walls and the doors right past me here,” he told KTVU. “Everything, everything that was shooting out of it was in flames,” he said. He battled fires breaking out wherever the pieces landed.

Fortunately he was able to get the situation under control and called 911, fighting a second-round fire when the hoverboard began flaring again.

In December, a 15-year-old Brentwood, Calif., girl was able to escape without being injured after her hoverboard caught fire at home.

The fires were some of the latest in a wave of incidents involving incendiary hoverboards across the country. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is currently investigating the unregulated devices, which have already been banned in many schools, colleges, some city streets, airlines, and other places for their risk of fire and injury.

Insurance Journal
KTVU San Francisco