2nd hoverboard catches fire in Sonoma Co. in a week

- Sonoma County has had its second hoverboard fire in a week, this house saved by an alert homeowner who sprang into action. 

"The whole hallway lit up bright orange and the light was coming from my daughter's room around the corner," described Petaluma homeowner Jim Beels, walking KTVU through the damage to his home.

Monday night, Beels heard an unfamiliar hissing sound and followed it to find fire spewing from a hoverboard on the floor, plugged in to an outlet.

"Parts of the machine were ricocheting off the walls and the doors right past me here, " he recounted.

In thick smoke, he dodged flaming projectiles, pieces of plastic and battery that were flying across the room.

"Everything, everything that was shooting out of it was in flames," recalled Beels.

He threw the electrical breaker to the room, grabbed a fire extinguisher and yelled to his family to call 911 and get out.

Beels sprayed the hot spots, then turned to see the hoverboard flaring again.

"It went from being a cool toy to being an explosive device in ten seconds," Beels declared.

The charred hoverboard is at the Petaluma Fire Department, where an inspector from the Consumer Product Safety Commission examined it Tuesday.

The Commission has tallied more than 40 such fires across the country.

Paying more for a board, and selecting one with a UL Underwriters Laboratory label, might reduce the risk, but not necessarily.

"We don't know how many of these are out there, and which ones are going to be faulty," Petaluma Fire Battalion Chief Mike Medeiros told KTVU.

"There's different models, and there's no real rhyme or reason, to predict if your model is one that's going to do this."

Jim Beels believes he might have lost his house, if no one had been home. And the smoke had barely cleared, when he began sounding the warning to other families.

His daughter's hoverboard was purchased in November for a few hundred dollars, ridden and charged uneventfully, until now.

"Everybody seems to think they have one that won't do it," observed Beels.

"And I'm telling you, you better be careful because there's a good chance it will. So evaluate if you want it near your home or loved ones, because it's a hazard."

Medeiros estimates the damage at roughly $10,000.

The two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered devices have drawn criticism in recent months, as reports have come out across the country of them bursting into flames. Most recently, a Santa Rosa home was damaged and two dogs died in a hoverboard-sparked fire on Jan. 19.


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