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Hot toy hits home

A toy that has made national headlines for being prone to igniting was at the root of a Wednesday home fire in east Medford.

Medford Fire-Rescue responded to a residential fire at 5:08 p.m. Wednesday in the 1700 block of Easy Street and determined the fire was caused by a malfunctioning "hoverboard" motorized wheeled toy.

While questioning the occupants of the home, a 20-year-old resident told fire investigator Ralph Sartain that the toy beeped, which he believed meant that the battery was fully charged. He heard whistling and saw smoke, and reached to unplug it.

The hoverboard owner called for his parents as the lithium-ion battery pack exploded and spread fire. The family was able to extinguish the bedroom fire using water, and carried the flaming hoverboard through the house before extinguishing it on the back porch.

No one was injured, and the fire was quickly extinguished.

The lithium-ion battery on the self-balancing electric scooters, commonly known as "hoverboards" but sold under a variety of names typically by unknown Chinese brands, is prone to failure, particularly for the least expensive ones sold on eBay for prices as low as $300. The devices have caused house fires throughout the country, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating hoverboard fires.

After the fire, Medford Fire-Rescue sent out an advisory urging owners of hoverboards to use extreme caution.

The CPSC advises that hoverboards be stored in an open and dry area, wait for the device to cool before charging, and don't charge the device while it is unattended. Hoverboard purchasers should avoid stores such as mall kiosks that can't be contacted easily if there's a problem.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.