Fire officials: Students imitating viral trend used iPhone charger, penny to scorch Plymouth classroom

PLYMOUTH, MASS. (WHDH) - Students imitating a viral trend involving people who record themselves using an iPhone charger and a penny to spark a fire scorched a Plymouth high school classroom on Tuesday, fire officials said.

Firefighters responding to reports of an arcing electrical outlet at Plymouth North High School around 12:15 p.m. found the pronged part of an iPhone charger had been blackened and scorched, and a penny fused to the charger, officials said. Another outlet was similarly scorched.

A teacher said two students plugged chargers into two outlets and dropped a penny between the outlet and charger, causing the outlets to spark and smoke, officials said. No one was injured.

“It’s almost like an explosion. The electricity propels the charger and the coin — the coin is molten metal at this point — outwards.” Plymouth Fire Chief Edward Bradley said. “It can easily get you in the face, get you in the eye, it could cause blindness and it can cause your clothing to catch fire.”

“It does not take much to be electrocuted fatally,” Bradley said. “Just by an outlet in a wall socket.”

Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dr. Gary E. Maestas issued a statement Tuesday night reading in part:

“I am happy to report that there were no injuries or significant damage to Plymouth North High School as a result of their irresponsible act of shorting out an electrical outlet.”

This is not just happening in Plymouth.

State Fire Marshal Peter Otroskey issued an advisory earlier Tuesday after a similar incident, which he said was based on videos shown on TikTok.

The Westford Academy has a recent incident and a mother in Holden reported something similar after she came across a scorched outlet in her home.

Fire officials are now looking to put plans in place to educate teens about the risks involved with this viral stunt.

“My plan is to get it out to the superintendent,” Winchester Fire Chief Rick Tustin said. “We have had incidents over the years where children have been really injured with these viral videos. So that is our major concern — to stop them before they get hurt.”

They are asking parents to be aware and to talk to their children about this prank and the serious consequences that could be associated.

“Get them to understand that these are very dangerous acts. Just because someone got away with it on video, and who knows if the video wasn’t even touched up, does not mean that you will get away with it,” Bradley said.

The students at Westford Academy are facing charges in connection to the incident.

The investigation in Plymouth remains ongoing.

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For the last 12 years, the Department of Fire Services has sponsored a contest called “The YouTube Video Contest.”

Students are asked to make a one to three minutes video showing the positive uses of fire and life safety issues and not the negative.

“We have had great success with it,” says Winchester Fire Chief Rick Tustin. “We hope it will bounce to the top if someone searches fire this will come up and the negative ones would be further down on the search and that is our goal.”

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