A 3-year-old girl was killed and two family members critically injured in a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, house fire caused by a charging hoverboard. The death is believed to be the first such fatality linked to the two-wheeled, gyro-balanced mobile devices, which have been blamed for dozens of fires since mid-2015.
Harrisburg authorities investigating the deadly fire said that the fire started some time shortly before 8 p.m. in a home just north of the downtown area. Windy conditions fueled the flames, and the first floor of the residence was engulfed in fire by the time firefighters reached it. Red Cross officials have said that 21 people were displaced by the fire.
The girl killed in the blaze was identified as Ashanti Hughes. Rescuers retrieved two other girls who were trapped on the second and third floors, and two other family members escaped onto a porch roof. The two girls were taken to a burn center and were said to be in critical condition.
U.S. regulators recalled more than half a million Chinese-made hoverboards in July amid a mounting number of reports that the devices, powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, suddenly exploded. “We’ve concluded pretty definitively that these are not safe products the way they were designed,” said U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Eliot Kaye in July, urging consumers to stop using the devices.
CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson told NBC News that the agency has investigated more than 60 hoverboard fires since the fall of 2015. He said that the CPSC would also investigate the Harrisburg fire, which local authorities said occurred while the device was charging.
Mr. Wolfson said further that potential buyers should ensure that hoverboards display markings showing the products meet “Underwriters Laboratories standard 2272” before buying. The code means that the device meets the best fire-prevention safety standards. Anyone who continues to use a hoverboard should never recharge it overnight and should always make sure there is a fire extinguisher nearby, Mr. Wolfson added.
Source: NBC News
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