Yet Another Hoverboard Erupts in Flames in NYC, Hours After Lawmakers Call for Legalization

A hoverboard ignited in a Brooklyn home Tuesday night, marking at least the fourth time in the tri-state area in the last several months one of the popular gifts has burst into flames, fire officials tell NBC 4 New York.

In the latest case, a family in Crown Heights was charging their new hoverboard, a Christmas gift, according to neighbors, when they smelled something burning. The family grabbed the hoverboard and took it into the hallway of the apartment building, where it ignited, fire officials said.

Firefighters arrived and doused the flames. No one was injured.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Wednesday the fire started inside the hoverboard, at the site of the lithium battery, after the gadget had been charged for two hours. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission told NBC New York that they’re currently investigating 22 hoverboard fires in 17 states, including cases in Chappaqua, New York, Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey, and Staten Island. No injuries were reported in the local cases. 

Nigro said the FDNY was working with the CPSC to determine why hoverboards keep burning. 

"We could have had a tragedy," he said of the Brooklyn case, and said he was worried there could be more hoverboard incidents. "I wouldn't plug one in in my home." 

The Brooklyn fire came hours after lawmakers gathered at City Hall to propose a bill that would legalize riding hoverboards in the city and set the circumstances by which they could be used. Currently, the devices are not legal to ride in New York because they are motor vehicles that can't be registered with the DMV, but they are legal to buy, sell and own.

The lawmakers advocating the legalization say the self-balancing, two-wheel electric scooters are no different than skateboards and should be legal to ride around.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says the streets and sidewalks are already so crowded with pedestrians and cyclists the city doesn't need hoverboards to compound the traffic. 

But the proposal comes at a time when more people are questioning the safety of hoverboards, a concern only fueled by their wild popularity this Christmas and underscored by events like what happened at the Brooklyn home Tuesday night.

Videos online show people tumbling off hoverboards and others show hoverboards smoking and bursting into flames.

Amazon now bans the sale of most brands on its website. In cases where the hoverboards catch fire, they are most often too charred to determine the brand. 

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