If you’re planning to shop for a pair of boys light-up shoes you might want to skip Payless ShoeSource, as the retailer has pulled the footwear while fire officials in Texas investigate a fire that may be linked to the sneakers.
Payless told Houston’s KPRC-TV that the shoe store chain had taken the “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” Lighted Runner light-up shoes off store shelves until an investigation can be completed.
The retailer’s decision to stop selling the shoes comes after a Texas family said the shoes caught fire in their vehicle.
The parents say their two-year-old son had kicked off his shoes and left them in the family vehicle on Friday night. When they went to the car on Saturday they found the backseat charred and the shoes scorched.
While an official cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, the family believes it was caused by the small lithium battery used in the shoes.
According to KHOU, Jovan Virag took one of the shoes apart and discovered that it was powered by a tiny lithium battery — the kind that have been known for shorting out and causing small fires in hoverboards and other small electronics.
That’s why it’s so puzzling that major kids’ shoe manufacturers would rely on lithium-ion batteries for their light-up footwear. A New York Times story from when the shoes were first introduced on the market in the late ’90s confirmed that shoe companies used lithium batteries to make them light up, adding that the expectation was that a child would outgrow the shoe before the long-running battery would need to be examined or replaced. There’s little information available online about whether the practice is still the norm, although the Virag’s discovery suggests that it could well be the case.
“You don’t think about … a blinky shoe,” the woman tells KPRC. “It’s cool. You don’t think about the risks.”
Payless said on Tuesday that it had removed the shoes “out of an abundance of caution” from all stores “until we can thoroughly investigate a customer claim regarding that shoe.”
“First and foremost, safety is always a top priority at Payless and we take the claim made by the customer seriously,” the retailer said. “We have contacted the family, and we will work with them and local authorities to better understand the circumstances of the fire and what may have caused it.”
Although local fire officials say they are investigating the incident, it’s unclear if the issue has been reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.