Attila and Jovan Virags, a Texas couple, experienced quite the scare when they noticed smoke accumulating in their SUV. When the parents opened their car to figure out what the dark haze was, the smell of burning plastic hit their noses.
Upon further examination, they found a hole in the floor, as well as a melted passenger’s seat. From there, they contacted the local fire marshal’s office in order to further investigate the mysterious car fire.
“There just wasn’t anything in there to start a fire — only clothes and shoes,” Jovan told KHOU.
But that’s when they found the shoes. Their toddler’s light-up sneakers had been in the car when the blaze occurred, and each sneaker contained lithium batteries. One of the shoes, a “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” light-up sneaker, was essentially burnt to a crisp.
Ultimately, fire officials agreed that the shoe may very well have started the fire. However, they have yet to determine an official cause.
According to the Virags, they purchased the sneakers for their two-year-old son at Payless for $25.
“I didn’t know there’s a battery in there that could be flammable if it’s shorted,” Attila told KHOU.
“I’m just glad that my son wasn’t wearing it at the time,” Jovan added. “I don’t know if he could have told me his foot was getting hot, and I don’t think he could have taken it off by himself.”
While commercial buildings and homes have safety measures that can reduce property damage and loss of life by at least 50%, not all spaces have the same fire protection measures. That being said, the parents have vowed to be extra careful on all fronts from now on — especially when it comes to the potentially hazardous pair of sneakers.
“I don’t want this to happen to somebody else and we’re relieved it happened in our car because at least that can be fixed,” said Jovan.