Authorities warn of TikTok viral video challenge that’s causing fires

Joanna Estrada
January 23, 2020

The appropriately named "outlet challenge" involves inserting a phone charger only part of the way into an outlet and then sliding a penny down to the exposed prongs, trying to produce a spark.

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey issued a warning Tuesday about a viral video challenge popular with teenagers that could damage electrical systems or spark a fire.

Plymouth firefighters responded at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday to Plymouth North High School, where a teacher said two students performed the challenge that left two outlets scorched, the department said in a statement.

"These actions are extremely risky and could potentially start a fire and cause thousands of dollars in property damage". "It could also cause serious injury to anyone who is nearby. These actions are also grounds for criminal charges".

The students were lucky, Plymouth Fire Chief Ed Bradley told the outlet, because the harebrained pursuit can cause "damage to some electrical wiring behind the wall and a fire could be undetected and burning in the walls, endangering everyone that's in the building".

Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary Maestas called the incident an "irresponsible act".

A video of the challenge can be seen here. Photos shared by the Plymouth Fire Department show the penny fused to the charger. "This act has ignited fires in other schools in MA and other states, causing disruption of the school day and significant damages to schools".

Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey issued a letter to all of the state's fire chiefs on Monday warning of a viral TikTok video that's inciting unsafe copycat behavior among teens.

At Westford Academy on Friday, a spark ignited an outlet and generated smoke, setting off the school's fire alarm, according to Westford Fire Department Spokesman Donald Parsons. In the hallway outside the classroom, school officials found another outlet that was scorched and filled with metal wires.

Parents are being advised to look for signs of their kids participating in this challenge, and to have a conversation with them about fire and electrical safety. Fortunately, no one was injured - but the accidental arsonist is now facing charges.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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