Hoverboard ignites in Highland Park home - on video

ABC7 I-Team Investigation

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff WLS logo
Friday, February 26, 2016
Hoverboard ignites in Highland Park home
Incredible video obtained by the ABC7 I-Team shows a hoverboard fire in north suburban Highland Park - a fire that did extensive damage to a home there.

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Incredible video obtained by the ABC7 I-Team shows a hoverboard fire in north suburban Highland Park - a fire that did extensive damage to a home there.

What happened in Highland Park shows how spontaneously destructive a hoverboard can be when the batteries explode, producing a fireball and intense flames. This is the kind of incident that shows why the Consumer Product Safety Commission calls hoverboards unsafe and why self-balancing scooters are being pulled off store shelves by some major American retailers.

Everything was fine in until just before 6:56 p.m., when authorities believe the batteries from a hoverboard began exploding, and then - the fireball.

Dan Perper was just getting home from work.

"As I was walking in from my car to the house I got a call from our monitoring service that we had a fire alarm, probably stupidly opened the door to the house and saw my wife's jacket completely in flames," Perper said.

The video was shot from a home security camera located in the room where it started and where two hoverboards were parked.

"I stood there watching my house burn," Perper said.

The hoverboards were both gifts his daughters received around the holidays.

"We're pretty sure they were not plugged in," Perper said.

Minutes before the fire, Perper's daughter Amanda is seen grabbing her soccer bag and leaving for practice.

"I'm just really, really, really happy I wasn't there when it started going off," Amanda, who is in sixth grade, said.

Only the family dog was inside at the time.

"I was sad that my dog was home, I got really emotional because I thought he was really hurt," said Emma Perper, a seventh-grader.

Ozzy suffered smoke inhalation but is going to be OK.

Firefighters put out the flames in 10 minutes.

"I had no idea what smoke damage could do but we're probably out of the house for about a year," Dan Perper said.

Perper is not alone. A warning put out by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says in the past three months there have been 52 hoverboard fires across the country, causing at least $2 million in property damage.

Video and audio of what happened in the Perpers' home reveals how spontaneously destructive the devices can be.

"It could have been while one of my kids was riding it or while they were leaning over it, in the same room or even in the house - would have been a completely different ballgame," Dan Perper said.

After seeing what happened to them, the family hopes people will get rid of their hoverboards. Many of their friends already have.

"I told them to get rid of them because mine blew up and all of them got rid of them," Amanda said.

The I-Team asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission how to properly dispose of hoverboards. They recommended contacting the retailer or manufacturer to find out if you can return the product for a refund. Otherwise contact local authorities to find out where you can drop them off.