HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBSMiami/AP) — The federal government is investigating what may be the first U.S. death linked to a hoverboard fire. A three-year-old was killed and two others were critically injured over the weekend in a house fire that officials say was caused by a recharging hoverboard. A responding firefighter was also hurt on the way to the scene after being hit by a suspected drunk driver. He died the next day.
Fire officials in Harrisburg said one victim jumped from a second-floor porch roof to escape the blaze, which was reported shortly before 8 p.m. Friday. Two other females were rescued by ladder from the ground, as was a man.
The Lehigh County coroner’s office said 3-year-old Ashanti Hughes was pronounced dead just after 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. Two girls remain hospitalized in critical condition. The man and another occupant of the home, a teenage male, were treated and released.
Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe, a 21-year veteran, was on his way to the station to pick up his gear before heading to the scene when his vehicle was hit in an intersection, Fire Chief Brian Enterline said. DeVoe was hospitalized in critical condition but died the next day. The driver of the other vehicle, which was reported stolen, was arrested on aggravated assault, DUI, and other counts, officials said.
The fire was ruled accidental and attributed to a hoverboard plugged in to recharge on the first floor, where family members were also present, Enterline said.
“They heard some sizzling and crackling in the hoverboard and shortly thereafter, it exploded in flames,” he said.
Enterline called the devices “notorious for starting fires” and urged people not to use them in what he called “knockoff brands” not deemed safe by UL, formerly Underwriters Laboratories.
“We’ve seen too many fires and too many fire fatalities as a result of these hoverboards,” he said.
Since 2015, consumers have reported nearly 100 incidents associated with overheating hoverboard battery packs.
Last summer, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled over half a million hoverboards produced by 8 different manufacturers, all fabricated in China. The commission says the lithium ion battery packs can overheat and, in some cases, start smoking, catch fire or explode.
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