Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford 'hoverboard' fire family seeks compensation

Burnt hoverboard Image copyright West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
Image caption The machine was charging when it burst into flames

A family is seeking compensation after a "hoverboard" exploded, injuring four people and setting fire to their house.

The device was plugged into a wall socket and being charged at the Chiem family's Bradford home when it burst into flames on 15 January.

Lawyers said they had been instructed by the family to "seek redress for the injuries and losses caused".

Costco UK, the retailer which sold the device, said it was looking into the matter.

Three children and a woman were treated in hospital for minor injuries and later discharged.

Nine-year-old Tony Chiem and his sister Karen, eight, were saved by their 13-year-old friend Jibril Faris, who dragged the pair out of the living room, where the device was on charge, and dialled 999.

All three were taken outside the house on St Mary's Drive in Wyke by Tony's mother, Thu Tram, who was also inside.

Image caption Jibril Faris (right) saved nine-year-old friend Tony Chiem and his eight-year-old sister Karen by helping them to an upstairs bedroom before calling the emergency services

West Yorkshire Fire Service praised Jibril's "quick-thinking actions" and said the likely cause of the fire was "lithium batteries in the hoverboard [that] overheated and exploded or ignited".

'Still suffering nightmares'

Mrs Tram and her husband Vinh Hung Chiem, who was at work at the time of the blaze, bought the Air Runner "hoverboard" from retailer Costco, in Leeds, in November for £279.99, as a Christmas present for the children.

She said: "The kids could have been killed. They all believed they were going to die in the fire and are still suffering nightmares.

"We have lost our home. Everything was ruined in the fire... it's turned our lives upside down.

"We thought we bought a reliable product from a trusted retailer and we want to know how something with so much potential to cause this type of devastation was sold to us."

Since the blaze, the family have been living in a single bedroom at a relative's house while their property is repaired.

Image copyright West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
Image caption The explosion caused extensive damage
Image copyright West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
Image caption The living room was left gutted while the rest of the house was heavily smoke-logged

Solicitor Matthew Newbould, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "There are two potential rights of action: the first against the seller of the "hoverboard", Costco, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015; the second against the manufacturer, Air Runner, under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

"We are advising the family to keep all options open for the moment but if neither accept liability, it may be necessary to pursue proceedings against both."

A spokeswoman for Costco UK said: "This is a terrible tragedy and we are looking into this matter but we have no comment at this time."

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