Hoverboard fire prompts evacuation at West Park Mall; 1 hospitalized

Sunday, August 6, 2017
A hoverboard fire Saturday evening prompted an evacuation at West Park Mall in Cape Girardeau.
Andrew J. Whitaker

West Park Mall in Cape Girardeau was evacuated Saturday evening after a hoverboard caught fire in the mall's center lobby, sending one person to the hospital during the incident.

According to Cape Girardeau Fire Department battalion chief Brad Dillow, it received reports at 5:18 p.m. of a hoverboard on fire.

A witness, Chris Munoz, was sitting on a bench near the mall's main lobby when the fire occurred.

Munoz said he heard five to six "pop" sounds from a nearby hoverboard while children played on trampolines in the main lobby.

Aryana Booker, 13, and Alexis Councilor, 11, who were near the center lobby at the time, said the hoverboard sat near a stand in the main lobby plugged into a charger on the wall when the device caught fire.

Shoppers wait outside of the West Park Mall on Saturday evening after an evacuation prompted by a hoverboard fire.
Andrew J. Whitaker

Munoz said the hoverboard reignited after it initially was extinguished, and several extinguishers were needed to contain the blaze.

Aryana said the discharge from the extinguishers began to cloud the air and prompted more shoppers to flee.

"You could see footprints in the ash and chemicals on the floor," Aryana said.

The fire department worked to remove the smoke from the air and evacuated the shopping center.

The hoverboard was removed from the lobby by the fire department and placed outside the main entrance, where more than 100 evacuees awaited re-entry to the shopping center.

Dillow said one person at the mall passed out and was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

Martin Cruz, a server at Don Carlos restaurant, said he saw about 40 people run to the front exit after the fire started.

Tyler Slinkard, assistant manager of the Pro Image store in West Park Mall, was stitching a shirt for customer Tyreese Alston when Slinkard was forced to evacuate customers and close the store.

Alston said hoverboards should be taken off the market.

"My niece and cousin have hoverboards, but we're getting rid of those now," Alston said.

With the exception of its anchor stores reopening about an hour after the fire, the mall remained closed Saturday night.

Efforts to reach West Park Mall by phone went unanswered Saturday night.

bmatthews@semissourian.com

(573) 388-3652

Pertinent address: 3049 William Street, Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701

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