Hoverboard fires prompting widespread concern

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Amazon recently announced it will no longer sell hoverboards on its website – and now the giant online retailer is demanding that companies manufacturing the popular devices prove to consumers that they are safe.

Already one of the season’s hottest gifts, it appears hoverboards are continuing to heat up – literally.

A rider from Alabama posted a video of his board when it caught on fire. On Thursday, the nation’s three largest airlines – Delta, American and United Airlines – banned the scooters from flights because they’re concerned about the toys’ lithium-ion batteries.

“There’s not enough information to know exactly what is causing fires. It’s very likely it’s the lithium-ion batteries,” said product safety expert Sean Kane.

Cell phones, tablets and laptops all use low wattage lithium-ion batteries – which fall within Federal Aviation Administration regulation – but airlines are expressing concern about the hoverboards’ batteries.

One manufacturer called Swagway, blames cheap knockoff boards for the problem, saying they “don’t compromise when it comes to using the highest quality parts.”

The company urged customers “to be aware of fake units that are being sold on the internet.”

According to Kane, the founder of the Safety Institute, the hugely popular products may eventually be recalled.

“In short, the answer is not what people want to hear and that is: wait,” he said. “Don’t buy these products as they’re coming out on the marketplace. They’re new and there’s not a lot of safety information about them.”

Online retailer Overstock.com also said it will stop selling the popular product due to growing safety concerns.

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