A family in Hong Kong were left homeless earlier this week after an electric “hoverboard” scooter bought in nearby Shenzhen exploded and burned down their Wong Tai Sin flat.
A 20-year-old woman surnamed Au said she bought the snazzy hoverboard for HK$1,800 two weeks ago and kept it in the seventh floor apartment she shared with her mother and brother.
According to Apple Daily, she started charging it at around 2 am and then heard a loud bang just a couple of hours later at about 4 am. Despite immediately unplugging the gadget, it was already starting to emit smoke.
Alarmed, Au rushed to wake up her family and call the police as the hoverboard quickly set fire to the entire apartment.
“It exploded several times. We saw fire and heard another loud bang. Luckily, we were already rushing outside,” the woman told reporters.
About 200 other residents were evacuated from the building by emergency services with no reported injuries. A pair of beloved pet tortoises belonging to the family were also saved from the blaze.
Investigations are ongoing into what may have caused the unbranded hoverboard to so dramatically short-circuit while being charged.
Increasingly popular, hoverboards are coming under scrutiny after a spate of similar incidents in the U.S. and Europe. Powered by lithium batteries, they are available on the main mainland shopping portal Taobao from 799 yuan.
Professor Ron Hui Shu-yuen, chair of power electronics at the University of Hong Kong, explained: “It is likely the device will be damaged on bumpy rides … damaged electrodes in a cell may cause a short-circuit and explosion.”
Billy Ho Kin-fan, an Institute of Vocational Education engineering lecturer, said lithium batteries are more dangerous than car batteries and should be subject to strict quality controls.
Not surprisingly, Au regrets buying the product and as a result of the traumatic experience was pretty damning of China-made things in general.
“Things made in China will explode,” she sighed.
By Daniel Paul