STONEHAM– Stoneham Fire Chief Matthew Grafton, Stoneham Police Chief James McIntyre and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the cause of the Oct. 12 fire at 16 Flint St. in Stoneham was a battery-powered hoverboard. A teenager was home and able to escape safely through a second floor window. A dog was treated for smoke inhalation at a local animal hospital and is back with the family. Damages to the single-family home are estimated at $200,000.
Investigators determined the fire started on the first floor at the hoverboard left charging underneath the kitchen table. The fire is deem accidental but it is known whether there was a failure of the hoverboard itself, the charger or if the hoverboard had been overcharged (left plugged in once it was fully re-charged).
The Stoneham Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal jointly investigated this fire.
“We’re urging residents to be careful and follow manufacturer’s instructions when using and maintaining any device with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries,” said Stoneham Fire Chief Matthew Grafton. “Never leave these devices unattended or on a flammable surface while charging.”
Hoverboards were the hottest holiday gift in 2015 in more ways than one. Nationally, there were many fires in late 2015 and early 2016, including several here in Massachusetts. The U.S. Consumer Production Safety Commission (CPSC) issued warnings to consumers, launched an investigation and recalled several models. There have been few hoverboard fires since the recalls.
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey offered these safety tips for using any lithium-ion powered electronic item whether it is a laptop, a cell phone or hoverboard:
- Only purchase hoverboards that are compliant with the UL 2272 safety standard. However, even UL 2272 compliance cannot guarantee that a hoverboard will not overheat or catch fire.
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has guidance on how to check if a hoverboard has been recalled or if it meets this safety standard at www.cpsc.gov.
- Only use the chargers supplied with the hoverboard (or other electronics). Non-approved chargers or systems may not work properly with lithium-ion battery packs and can damage the battery or device, or cause a fire.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for charging. Don’t overcharge devices or leave them unattended for long periods of time. Overcharging can lead to a fire.
- Only charge a hoverboard (or other electronics) when you are there to watch it. Do not charge an unattended hoverboard, especially overnight.
- Don’t charge or use lithium-ion batteries in extreme temperatures. Cold temperatures can cause a battery not to hold a charge while high temperatures (or prolonged exposure to sunlight) can cause a malfunction and lead to a fire.
- Replace and properly discard damaged batteries. Using damaged batteries may lead to thermal runaway which can cause a fire.
- Charge devices on solid surfaces that won’t catch fire. Don’t place charging devices or devices in use on soft and/or combustible surfaces. The heat produced by the charging or use of the battery can get trapped around the battery and if left untouched, can damage the battery or device, or cause a fire.
- Keep away from flammable items while charging or even storing your hoverboard.
- Check for recalls. Go to www.CPSC.gov to see if the hoverboard has been recalled. Stop using a recalled hoverboard immediately.
- Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom.
- Report incidents involving hoverboards overheating, smoking, or catching fire to the CPSC at Saferproducts.gov.For more information on hoverboard safety, go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at: www.cpsc.gov, click in Safety Education, Safety Education Centers, then Hoverboards.