A faulty hoverboard was engulfed in flames at a Texas mall, the blast prompting the evacuation of several hundreds of customers who were present in one section of the building.
The incident took place on Monday afternoon, at Deerbrook Mall, from Humble, a northeast suburb of Houston. At approximately 3 p.m., a disgruntled customer had tried to return the hoverboard at a small kiosk called Xcel Toys & Games, after noticing that the toy’s battery was broken, and that the device couldn’t be charged.
When the store clerk attempted to plug the device into a power source, as eyewitnesses recall, the box simply exploded, which prompted the employee to push it off the shelf, as far away as possible from customers and other staff members.
That’s when a fire also broke out, the faulty toy being consumed by flames, right next to a potted ornamental plant.
Several people took photographs and videos of the blaze which originated in the lithium-ion batteries and combusted the self-balancing board.
Extensive footage documenting the incident was posted on Twitter, and images were also captured as a security officer managed to contain the flames, using a portable extinguisher. A firefighting unit from the Humble Fire Department later arrived at the scene, but the small combustion had already been put out by then.
An evacuation order was issued by authorities, as toxic fumes and smoke made the air unbreathable. The warning remained in effect for approximately 45 minutes, causing several hundreds of people to be forced to leave the store.
Some shoppers even suspected that a terrorist attack was underway, after hearing the bang, which brought to mind the sound of gunfire.
As authorities report, no injuries, illnesses or damages have been triggered by the fire, and at the moment it’s not exactly clear what brand of hoverboard was involved in the incident.
Apparently, the Xcel Toys & Games business is known to commercialize a “smart balance wheel”, manufactured by Miberi, but it hasn’t been confirmed that this was indeed the toy vehicle which went ablaze.
In recent weeks, numerous fires and blasts caused by such motorized scooters have been reported across 9 states, one such incident having occurred on Sunday, December 27, at a New Jersey residence.
What was initially hailed as one of the most popular and entertaining Christmas gifts this holiday season has proven to be quite hazardous.
Certain retailers such as Overstock have decided that they would discontinue selling such products, in a pledge to put customer safety first, and Amazon has also removed hoverboards produced by Swagway and other companies from its online store, forcing manufacturers to provide substantial proof that these items are safe.
Moreover, the perilous toys have been banned by 3 U.S. airline carriers (American, Delta and United Airlines), the interdiction impeding passengers from taking the two-wheeled electric scooters on board, so as to prevent fires that could erupt due to malfunctioning lithium-ion batteries.
The self-balanced gadgets have also been classified as illegal by the New York City Police Department, under the state’s traffic and vehicle law.
Image Source: Flickr