Hoverboard explosion – safety warning

Video captures moment hoverboard battery starts house fire - prompting warning from victim's son and West Midlands firefighters



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Published on 15 November 2021

Dramatic footage of a hoverboard battery exploding – just feet from the bedroom of a bed-bound West Midlands woman – has been released, with a stark warning to take care when charging electrical items.

Home security video shows the moments a lithium ion battery spewed its molten contents across the downstairs living room of a Smethwick house, setting the room alight.

Jacqueline Barrett (54), who has multiple sclerosis and heart problems, remains in hospital in an induced coma after being rescued from the property by West Midlands firefighters. She was in her downstairs bedroom, next to the lounge, when the fire took hold

Now one of her sons, who is also her carer, is warning people to take extra care when charging any electrical devices.

Shane Johnson (34) said: “It’s awful. My mum’s really ill in hospital. The fire and smoke damage to the house is just unbelievable.

“Mum called me moments after it happened, to say there’d been some sort of explosion. The first thing I did was call the fire service, then got in the car to get to her as quickly as possible.

“I called my dad and some friends. Some got there before me, and dad had tried to kick the door in to get to mum, but the heat from the fire was just too much.

“If anyone needs a warning about leaving things unattended when they’re charging, or plugged in when they’re fully charged, this is it. It could happen to anyone.”Crews from West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) responded to the incident in Stony Lane just after 5pm on Saturday 13 November. Five fire engines and a Brigade Response Vehicle, crewed by a total of nearly 30 firefighters, tackled the fire.

The first crew arrived within five minutes of being mobilised and were met with a severe fire in the semi-detached property. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus quickly located and brought Jacqueline out of her downstairs bedroom, and she was taken to hospital by ambulance.

A WMFS fire investigator has confirmed that the fire started accidentally, as a hoverboard was being charged in the house.

Pete Wilson, WMFS’s Strategic Lead for Prevention, said: “This incident is horrific. Our thoughts are with Jacqueline, her family and friends at such a difficult time.

“We are extremely grateful to Shane for allowing us to share the home security video. It should send a clear warning to people to take utmost care when charging electrical items.

“The warning is particularly timely in the run up to Christmas, when we know people will be buying electrical items. Please – always buy goods from reputable retailers and check they meet British safety standards.”

Safety tips for charging electrical devices:

  • never leave items charging under pillows, on/in a bed or on soft furnishings
  • don’t overcharge items. Once they’re charged, unplug them
  • always use branded, genuine plugs and cables recommended for the specific device
  • if cables become broken, frayed or damaged, stop using and replace them
  • check that the output voltage and current ratings marked on the charger and your electrical device are the same
  • always buy goods from reputable retailers and check they meet British safety standards

Click here for more of our home safety tips.