10-year-old boy's hoverboard causes house fire

Posted at 10:56 PM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 15:45:14-04

"So I came here and I opened the door and it was just a big cloud of smoke," Melissa Whitmore said.

The mother of two says the smoke was so thick she couldn't see across her living room.

"It's a very scary thing, that's for sure, very scary," she said. 

She rushed home from running errands Saturday night after a neighbor heard an alarm going off inside her Lincoln Road home around 6 p.m.

"This all happened within 35 minutes while we were out,” said Whitmore.

Her 10-year-old son, Kay'von had left his hoverboard plugged into a wall outlet, charging while they were gone.  It was a $450 Christmas gift bought at the mall that was a lot of fun and worked without any problems, until this weekend.

"The fire department said four more minutes the house would've burned down completely to the ground," Whitmoyer said.

The blaze destroyed the hoverboard, and the floor beneath it, crews had to cut through the wood to make sure the flames were all out.

The fire didn't spread much beyond the living room, but the thick smoke damaged all the way up to the second story.

"It just went throughout the whole home,” Whitmore said.  “It destroyed everything, our furniture can't be saved, and nothing can be saved."

This is the first house fire in Anne Arundel County caused by a hoverboard, but it's a frightening reminder of what can go wrong.

"As of February, there were 52 fires in the country that were determined to have been started by hoverboards, with about $2-million in damage," Anne Arundel County Fire Captain Russ Davies said.

And that's just in the last 10 weeks.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission believes many of these fires would be prevented if hoverboards were manufactured in compliance with existing safety standards.

In Shady Side, Whitmore and her family are overwhelmed, but counting their blessings.       

"I'm grateful that the house didn't burn completely down to the ground,” she said.  “This can be repaired, it's gonna take several months, until then we're just worried about shelter and whatnot while this is all being repaired."

Because of all the damage, Whitmore, her fiancé, Kay’von and their three-year-old daughter can't stay in the home.  The Red Cross is helping out with a hotel room for a few days, but the family didn't have renters insurance.  So while the landlord makes repairs, they'll be trying to pick up the pieces and replace the furniture, clothes and other belongings that were lost.

If you want to help, this Go Fund Me Page was started by a friend to help the family get by.