March 12 (UPI) — Two deaths have been linked to a fire ignited by a hoverboard in Pennsylvania’s city of Harrisburg; a 3-year-old girl in the blaze and a firefighter in a crash racing to rescue victims.
Ashanti Hughes suffered burns over 95 percent of her body in a fire that apparently was started by a recharging hoverboard around 8 p.m. Friday, according to the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office. She was pronounced dead late Saturday morning at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
Two other girls who lived in the home were critically injured. The girl’s father and a teenage boy were treated and released for smoke inhalation.
“And it’s all because of a hoverboard — just a hoverboard,” the father’s brother, Charles Dominick, said to Penn Live, adding that his brother was “in a bad position right now” having lost one daughter and with others fighting for their lives.
“A family as good as them, they don’t deserve this. They really don’t,” Dominick said.
Fire Lt. Dennis DeVoe, a 21-year veteran, was responding to the fire when his vehicle was hit at an intersection by 19-year-old Khanyae Kendall, who was reportedly driving a stolen vehicle. The firefighter died Saturday night of his injuries at Hershey Medical Center.
Fire Chief Brian Enterline said DeVoe was among those coming from the funeral of a former member who had died of cancer when the fire call came in. DeVoe was blocks from the fire station to pick up his gear and joined his fellow firefighters at the scene.
“Our hearts are broken and we grieve for the loss of our brother,” he said in a statement. “Our resolve is strong and our will unwavering as we move forward with our service to the City of Harrisburg just as Denny would have said is a must.”
Enterline, also dealing with the aftermath of the fire, said a rechargeable hoverboard plugged into a first-floor electrical outlet was identified as the cause of the blaze. The family, whose names have not been released by the authorities, was on the first floor when it started, he said.
“They heard some sizzling and crackling in the hoverboard and, shortly thereafter, it exploded in flames,” he said.
“People were frantic in the street, hollering, screaming, there were children ” Allen said.
Enterline warned about the dangers of the hoverboards.
“We would ask if you are using these things and they are knock-off brands, please not use them,” he said at a news conference Saturday. “We’ve seen too many fires and too many fire fatalities as a result of these hoverboards.”