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Hoverboard house fire in Australia

Despite being the hot-ticket Christmas gift of 2015, safety concerns over self-balancing scooters are very real, with a device causing a severe house fire in Australia.

Photo by London Fire Brigade

Following spate of explosions and fires in the US, the controversial hoverboards have been named as the cause of a severe house fire in Melbourne, Australia.

Though the family of five was able to escape unharmed, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade said the home suffered considerable fire damage. The MFB deemed the hoverboard, plugged in to charge, as the cause of the house fire in a statement released on its website on Tuesday.

It comes on the heels of increasing regulation across the globe for the problematic devices, and amidst pleas from government bodies, like The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to keep a close eye on the popular Christmas gift.

While the board was plugged in to charge during this latest incident, previous hoverboard fires have occurred in a variety of circumstances. Self-balancing scooters have been notorious for explosions or fires due to volatile lithium ion batteries. The liquid contained in the batteries is extremely flammable and defective battery can short circuit and explode when the fragile internal separator is damaged.

Australia does employ safety standards when it comes to electronics, marking compliant devices with a regulatory compliance symbol (a tick surrounded by a triangle). While Mr Ibraheim, the owner of the Melbourne home, alleges the battery charger he used was compliant, Energy Safe Victoria found that the hoverboard itself did not meet even basic safety standards, according to The Australian.

The MFB tweeted the below after the incident:

The ACCC has issued product recalls for six hoverboards in Australia, every one due to included battery chargers not complying with Australian standards. It's just the tip of the iceberg for the controversial devices, which have already been banned from public walkways and roads in the majority of Australian states. They've also been barred from being carried on passenger flights by major airlines in the US and have had sales suspended on e-commerce giant Amazon.

It may be the incident that spurs on the end of the scooters down under, with the Victorian state government calling for an Australia-wide ban, ABC is reporting.

If nothing else, this latest incident is further proof that more rigid safety standards need to be put in place. In the meantime, check out CNET's guide on how to make smart choices in hoverboarding.

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