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U.S. Safety Regulators Step Up Probe of Hoverboards Over Fire Risk

Hoverboards have suddenly become a 'hot' holiday gift item in more ways than one.
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Hoverboards are becoming a truly "hot" holiday gift item.

Federal safety regulators said Thursday they are stepping up their investigation of the self-balancing electronic scooters due to a recent spate of reports of fires and explosions, as well as injury falls.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received "at least 10" reports of hoverboard fires and that number "is increasing daily," agency spokesman Scott Wolfson told NBC News on Thursday.

"CPSC is looking into the safety of the entire product line," he said. "We are taking the position that if there is an incident ... we are working to open an investigation right away."

The agency is collecting samples of hoverboards and shipping them to a national lab in suburban Washington, D.C., for analysis.

"This is a high-priority investigation by the agency. We know how popular the product is. We know consumers are giving the product as a gift during the holidays," Wolfson said.

"We are working all across the country to move our investigation forward as quickly as possible."

Hoverboards have come under increasingly intense scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad in recent weeks due to reports of the trendy gadgets self-combusting, possibly due to lithium ion batteries overheating. In one of the latest incidents, captured on video this week, employees at an Auburn, Washington, mall rushed to extinguish a hoverboard fire after the two-wheeled riding board suddenly exploded in flames.

Related: Looking Into a Hoverboard for the Holidays? Slow Your Roll

Online discount retailer announced Thursday it will stop selling hoverboards, effective immediately. "With the continued emergence of news reports highlighting safety concerns with 'hoverboard' self-balancing electric scooters, we have made the decision to remove all similar products from our website as a precautionary measure," general counsel and senior vice president Mitch Edwards said in a press release.

Several airlines have banned hoverboards from flights, citing fire risk.

The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission on Thursday warned consumers about the potential dangers of hoverboards and urged them to “choose safe products when shopping this Christmas.”

"Overcharging noncompliant devices may cause overheating of the battery and result in a fire," the commission said.

Last week, U.K. officials announced they had seized thousands of imported hoverboards due to safety concerns.

Related: U.K. Seizes More Than 15,000 Hoverboards at Border Over Fire Risk

It's not just the potential for fires.

"We have received more than 30 reports from hospital emergency rooms across the country of people falling off the device and getting injured," Wolfson said. "Those injuries include one open head wound and significant trauma to arms and legs."

So what's a consumer to do? To prevent injuries when riding a board, gear up like you would with a skateboard by putting on protective gear including a helmet and kneepads.

As for the fire risk, CPSC advises:

1. Look for the mark of a recognized independent laboratory on the gadget (such as UL, for Underwriters Laboratories). If the model doesn't have a marking, that could be a red flag that it hasn't been tested or certified for safety.

2. Do not charge a hoverboard overnight.

3. Do not charge the hoverboard and then wrap it back up as a present to be given later.

CPSC has a website,, where consumers can report unsafe products.