A toddler has died tragically in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in what appears to have been a hoverboard fire, authorities say. This terrible incident represents the first reported fatality from a hoverboard fire in the United States.
On the evening of March 13, a fire broke out in a Harrisburg home that led to the death of Ashanti Hughes, 3. Two other children were also severely injured in the incident. According to the Harrisburg Fire Chief, the likely cause was a rechargeable hoverboard. He said witnesses overheard sizzling sounds coming from the charging device.
While this may have been the first death of its type, dozens of hoverboard fires have been reported throughout the country.
The Hoverboard Fire: A Dangerous History
Since their introduction into the U.S. market in 2015, more than 2.5 million hoverboards, or self-balancing scooters, have been sold nationwide. So far, these hoverboards have generated nearly $1 billion in total revenue. However, some consumers have discovered that these devices run the risk of catching fire when charging.
Like E-Cigarettes – about which GWC Injury Lawyers is currently involved in international, multi-party litigation – hoverboards are powered by lithium-ion batteries. Defective batteries can short-circuit and overheat, which can cause the devices to self-ignite.
As of July 2016, there were at least 99 reported American cases of hoverboard batteries “overheating, sparking, smoking, catching fire and/or exploding.” At that time, these incidents had resulted in burn injuries, loss of animal life, and millions of dollars in property damage.
In response, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled over half a million hoverboards made by ten different companies.
Since that recall, the CSPS had noted an improvement in hoverboard safety. The agency endorsed a fire-safety standard for the batteries that Underwriters Laboratories had developed. However, the CSPS has announced that this recent tragedy will likely lead to further action.
A Federal Investigation
CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson stated that the agency was “working to open a federal investigation into this tragic incident.”
Mr. Wolfson added that they were trying to recreate what exactly happened to cause the fire.
It remains uncertain which model the hoverboard was, and whether it had been included in the previous recall.
GWC prosecutes a wide variety of personal injury cases throughout Illinois, including those involving product liability, auto accidents, workers’ compensation, construction accidents, and medical malpractice. If you or your loved one has been injured, from a defective product or by some other means, please contact our office for a free legal consultation to see if you may be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries.