US launches probe after hoverboard fire kills two-year-old

Hoverboards made a splash several years ago and were hot holiday gift items in 2015 before a series of battery fires and injuries prompted bans in the US and elsewhere

A US safety agency said Wednesday it had launched an investigation into a hoverboard fire that killed a two-year-old girl, the first fatality involving the personal transport devices.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said in an email to AFP that the fire in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania resulted in the first known fatality involving hoverboards -- 500,000 of which were recalled last year due to hazards such as overheating, fires or explosions during charging.

Media reports said the fire Friday resulted in the death of Ashanti Hughes and injuries to several other people.

Fire chief Brian Enterline was quoted as saying the family "heard some sizzling and cracking in the hoverboard and shortly thereafter it exploded in flames."

The personal transport gizmos -- two-wheel scooters that use self-balancing technology -- made a splash several years ago and were hot holiday gift items in 2015 before a series of battery fires and injuries prompted bans in the US and elsewhere.

Last year, US marshals seized several lots of hoverboards ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show amid concerns about unsafe batteries which could explode.