Hoverboard battery overheats, causes small fire at Cape Girardeau mall

Hoverboard battery overheats, causes small fire at Cape Girardeau mall
(Source: Kathy Sweeney/KFVS)
(Source: Kathy Sweeney/KFVS)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The West Park Mall in Cape Girardeau, Missouri was evacuated after a hoverboard exploded filling the mall with smoke.

Witnesses said it sounded like fireworks going off inside the mall.

It happened on Saturday, Aug. 5 around 5:15 p.m.

Fire Departments along with the police department were dispatched at 5:18 p.m. to the scene.

Jared Snell of Cape Girardeau was walking through the mall with his family and sat down on a bench in the middle common area.

Moments later they heard something unsettling followed by panic.

"We just heard a pop," Snell said. "We looked over and it was about five feet away. Once we saw it, I didn't really think it was real."

According to the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, a battery-operated hoverboard caught fire while charging in the middle of the mall in the kiosk area.

"Just a big fireball comes up from underneath the kiosk," Snell explained. "I don't know why but I just ran over, grabbed it and pulled it out from underneath the kiosk, unplugged it and tried to put it out as much as I could."

Snell said luckily there wasn't anyone around the area, except for him and his family, at the time of the explosion.

He tried to do what he could to contain the flaming hoverboard until help arrived.

"As I was trying to get people back and trying to contain it, I also was trying to get back and more people were walking past me with cameras," Snell said.

Mall security was on location and sprayed the hoverboard with fire extinguishers adding more smoke to the area, filling the front part of the mall. Snell said during the incident people didn't feel rushed to get outdoors to safety and many wanted to continue to get video of it.

"It's no different than if you see someone get robbed," Snell said. "They want to pull out their camera phone and take a video of it more than they want to help but this thing was blowing stuff that was on fire, plastic shards 30 feet in different directions. There was some that almost went into one of the jewelry stores, it hit the ceiling a couple times. It was flying everywhere."

Firefighters said several dry chemical extinguishers were used to control the fire. Some smoke and dry powder from the fire extinguishers filled the center court and main entrance hallway of the mall.

They quickly set up fans to control and remove the smoke from these areas while evacuating shoppers.

According to Cape Girardeau Fire Battalion Chief Brad Dillow, one person passed out and was treated by an ambulance and taken to an area hospital.

Dillow said fire units cleared the scene just before 7 p.m.

The fire was determined to be accidental. He said the incident most likely happened when a lithium battery overheated while the hoverboard was charging, and that despite the huge amounts of smoke, there were only a few flames.

The damage was light and only from the smoke.

All businesses in the main part of the were shut down for the rest of the night for cleanup.

JCPenney, Barnes & Noble and Macy's remained open because their businesses can be accessed by their own outside doors.

Dillow said the Health Department was contacted due to dry powder discharged near food areas.

He said the biggest challenge was getting people to leave.

Crews worked throughout the night to clean the area.

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