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L.A. firefighters see their first hoverboard fire, captured on video; Metrolink bans devices

Los Angeles firefighters responded to the first documented hoverboard fire in the city on Wednesday, just days before a ban on the devices takes affect on Metrolink trains across Southern California.

The fire, captured on video and given to KTLA, shows the hoverboard on a Vermont Avenue sidewalk in Koreatown with thick gray smoke emanating from an area around one of its tires. What follows next are pops, hisses and then flames.

“Whoa! Wuh-oh! Here we go, here we go!” its owner narrates on the video as flames swallow half the board.

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A moment later, an LAPD motorcycle officer who was passing by saw the flames and called the Fire Department, KTLA reported.

“It was the first known hoverboard fire in the city and fortunately no one was injured,” said Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.

As the self-balancing devices have grown in popularity, so have reports of them suddenly bursting into flames. Authorities warn users to keep them away from flammables and not to overcharge the batteries.

Effective Monday, Metrolink passengers will not be allowed to operate or carry a hoverboard or any other self-balancing device on board, the agency tweeted.

Earlier this month, Delta, United, American and British Airways all announced bans on transporting hoverboards.  

Delta said that the batteries are often poorly labeled and may exceed the government-mandated 160-watt-hour limit for batteries transported by aircraft.

“While occurrences are uncommon, these batteries can spontaneously overheat and pose a fire hazard risk,” the Atlanta carrier said in a statement on its website.

British Airways said it was prohibiting hoverboards in carry-on luggage and checked bags “in the light of press reports about potential fire risks associated with the lithium batteries used in hoverboards.”

Fortunately in Wednesday’s fire in Koreatown, the only damage done appeared to be to the sidewalk. Video showed firefighters calmly carrying the burning hoverboard onto the street then putting out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

The device’s owner, Delvon Simmons, lamented his loss.

“We just watched it totally melt,” Simmons said. “Wow, there’s $600 down the drain.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced earlier this month they are investigating the root cause of hoverboard fires.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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