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Hoverboard malfunctions outside Volo home, fire official says

VOLO – A Volo boy's birthday celebration ended on a heated note when the hoverboard he had received Sunday started sparking and smoking, fire officials said.

Wauconda Fire District crews were dispatched just before 8:20 p.m. to the 300 block of Shelbourne Road for the malfunctioning motorized toy outside a home, Battalion Chief Mark Dierker said.

“It was a birthday present for a boy who had been riding it all day,” Dierker said, adding the hoverboard was not charging. “It started smoking and sparking and they could not shut the power off.”

Firefighters disassembled and removed the battery from the hoverboard, a type of self-balancing scooter without handles. Hoverboards have recently gained notoriety for the potential fire damage because of their lithium-ion batteries, prompting them to be banned from Metra and several university campuses.

Dierker said the hoverboard did not have a serial or model number, and arrived in a plain white box without a manufacturer's name. The woman who purchased it said she planned to contact the retailer to determine what to do.

Hoverboards that don't meet safety standards have come under scrutiny from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for presenting an unreasonable risk of fire.

From Dec. 1, 2015 through Feb. 17, the commission received reports from consumers in 24 states of 52 hoverboard fires, according to a letter to manufacturers, importers and retailers from Director Robert Howell. Those fires resulted in more than $2 million in property damage, including the destruction of two homes and a vehicle.

Dierker said no one was injured in Sunday's incident, though he feared there might have been a different outcome if the hoverboard had been inside.

“They were very lucky,” Dierker said.

The trendy toy has caused an emergency response at least one other time locally. A hoverboard caught fire as it was charging overnight in a Fox River Grove home in January. No one was injured, but the fire destroyed the hoverboard and damaged the carpet, fire officials said at the time.

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