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Plugged in hoverboard sparks fire, damages homes

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 10/24/2017 Ted Czech
Trish Miranda stands outside Manchester, Pa., homes damaged by a fire that was probably sparked by a hoverboard on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Miranda helped the family escape the fire. © Paul Kuehnel, York (Pa.) Daily Record Trish Miranda stands outside Manchester, Pa., homes damaged by a fire that was probably sparked by a hoverboard on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Miranda helped the family escape the fire.

MANCHESTER, Pa. — A malfunctioning hoverboard is more than likely to blame for a fire that destroyed a Pennsylvania town house, displaced 13 residents and caused more than $500,000 in damage, a fire official said. 

Just before 3 a.m. Monday, firefighters were called to the accidental blaze in Manchester, Pa.,  that required more than 100 firefighters from about 14 fire companies, Union Fire Company Chief Joe Stevens said.

Six children and two adults were in  the home when a girl plugged in the hoverboard to charge it, Stevens said. It started smoking immediately, and the family evacuated the home. There were no injuries to either residents or firefighters.

Stevens said the 12-year-old plugged in her hoverboard, heard crackling and sizzling, saw it was smoking and alerted her mother.

More: Family sues Amazon after hoverboard fire destroys $1M house

"The batteries are extremely dangerous," he said. "I strongly, strongly, strongly encourage people if you have a hoverboard to get rid of them."

Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled more than 500,000 hoverboards from 10 companies, stating their lithium-ion batteries can overheat, and possibly catch fire and/or explode.

Stevens said that the town house where the fire started collapsed within 20 minutes of firefighters' arrival.  They had to fight the fire from the adjacent town houses and then also on the exterior, from the front and back.

"It was just an extremely large volume of fire, so it's very manpower intensive," he said. "There was a lot of very good work done here today."

More: Why lithium-ion batteries go up in flames

In addition to the eight residents in the home where the fire started, five residents from two neighboring homes were displaced, for a total of 13, Stevens said. Three more houses in the row have a total of eight residents who were temporarily displaced. Their homes are habitable, but utilities were shut off briefly, he said.

Nearby resident Trish Miranda, 38 — who said her children play with those who live in the home where the fire started — said she was awakened by some of the children knocking on her door.

Miranda said she ran to the house and helped get the children, along with the mother and another adult, to safety.

"It was just smoke at first, and then as soon as I turned around, flames started coming out of the house," she said.

More: More than 500,000 hoverboards recalled

The family, with six children ranging in age from 3 months to 12 years old, has lived at the home for about six months, Miranda said.

"I'm just glad that everybody is safe and sound," she said. "My thoughts and prayers go out to them ... They've lost everything, they have nothing salvageable."

Follow Ted Czech on Twitter: @TedCzech

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