Northern Ireland

East Belfast house fire 'caused by hoverboard'

The family were gathered in the living room of the house when the hoverboard "burst into flames"
Image caption The family were gathered in the living room of the house when the hoverboard "burst into flames"

A Belfast family has been left homeless after a fire, which they say was caused by a child's hoverboard.

Sharon Massey's home, on Ardgowan Street in east Belfast, was destroyed in the incident.

Ms Massey bought a hoverboard for her daughter for Christmas.

On Monday evening, Ms Massey was in the living room of the house with her baby granddaughter and two daughters, when the toy, which was charging, "burst into flames".

"We heard an almighty bang and in a matter of seconds it was everywhere," she said.

Image caption The family fled their home as the fire broke out

"The curtains caught, everything caught. We all just got up and ran straight out the door."

Ms Massey's daughter Summer said the experience was extremely frightening.

"I was so scared, but I just wanted to get [the family] out. Then we watched the house burn. It was shocking, but I'm glad we got out."

Ms Massey said she has been left "devastated" by the destruction.

"It's hard to believe [a toy] could do that much damage," she said.

Image copyright Maggie Hutton
Image caption Ms Massey said she was shocked by how quickly the fire took hold of her curtains and furniture

She said the hoverboard had only been used a few times since it was bought.

"My wee girl brought it in yesterday to charge it. It was literally charging half an hour when it exploded.

"There were bits flying everywhere.

"But I'm just glad it didn't happen when we were lying in bed sleeping."

A Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said they received a report of the fire at 18:50 GMT and sent two fire appliances to the house.

Image copyright Maggie Hutton
Image caption The family has been left "devastated" by the destruction to their home

The spokesperson said the fire was being treated as accidental.

The family has been staying with friends since the incident.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said their environmental health department "has dealt with a number of calls about so-called hoverboards".

She added: "We have been advising consumers against purchasing these boards as there is uncertainty around the product safety, and this is in line with advice already in the public domain.

"In light of the safety concerns, many retailers that were selling these goods voluntarily withdrew them from sale; or the supplier withdrew the stock at source.

"Anyone who has bought one of these items and is concerned about their child using it can seek a refund from the supplier/manufacturer. Our consumer advice staff can offer guidance on this. We will also investigate any complaints from members of the public about these items being sold in the Belfast area."