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Popular Self-Balancing Boards Can Burst Into Spontaneous Flames, Users Warn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New concerns have mounted over the motorized balance boards that are likely on a lot of holiday wish lists.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported, the motorized, hands-free, self-balancing boards are just about everywhere these days from parks and quiet neighborhoods to the most crowded Manhattan sidewalks.

Some do not realize that the boards are illegal in the city – with users getting slapped with fines as high as $200 per offense.

Even so, their popularity keeps growing. They can go 10 mph, and range in price from about $200 to about $2,000.

But while some are calling the boards a must-have holiday gift, they also being blamed for causing injury and destruction.

Timothy Cade said he only had his balance board for three days before it burst into flames under his feet.

"I came down the sidewalk not even probably a hundred feet, and it exploded," Cade said. "It said, 'Boom!'"

Cade said he scrambled off as parts of the board went flying.

"I think the batteries -- it was the batteries that blew up," he said. "If a kid was to have that happen, or imagine if it was in your house and it caught on fire like that?"

Jessica Horne does not have to imagine. She said her home in Louisiana was destroyed after her son's new board caught fire.

"Both wheels -- it was like a firework," Horne said, "like you just lit a firework."

Horne said her son got the board as a birthday gift. She said it was charging on top of a mattress when she saw flames shoot out.

"When it happened I couldn't believe it," her son said. "It was hard to put it out, because it was pretty big. It caught flames fast."

Across the country, the main complaints are injuries to the users of the boards and to pedestrians unlucky enough to get in their way.

The incidents are causing some to consider whether the thrills are worth the spills, and if it is worth it to keep using the boards in the city if that means running afoul of the law.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly encourages everyone to report any and all safety issues.

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