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Mass. fire marshal issues warning about viral video challenge

An electrical outlet was scorched inside a classroom at Plymouth North High School Tuesday after two students performed a dangerous viral trend where a penny was stuck between the outlet and a phone charger that was partially plugged in.Plymouth Fire Department

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.

In a letter sent to fire departments in Massachusetts, Ostroskey said the video that originated on the social media app TikTok shows the “unsafe use of electricity and fire.”

The video challenges viewers to plug a phone charger into an electrical outlet and slide a penny onto the exposed metal prongs. The original video shows a shower of sparks coming from the outlet, Ostroskey wrote.

“This video is a concern and similar to past viral videos that encourage unsafe behavior,” he said.


Teens taking the challenge have led to scorched electrical outlets at a home in Holden, and public high schools in Plymouth and Westford, officials said.

In Holden, “ . . . a concerned mother sent a phot of a scorched outlet to a news outlet,” Ostroskey said.

At Westford Academy, a student responsible for taking the challenge that sparked a fire is facing charges, Ostroskey said.

He advised fire departments across the state to alert their communities about the danger posed by the viral challenge. At least five fire department heeded the marshal’s warning.

Fire departments in Maynard, Easton, Canton, Plymouth, and Norfolk County, all released statements Tuesday cautioning parents about the video.

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 dangerous 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,” Fire Chief Edward Bradley said in the statement. “These actions are also grounds for criminal charges. Luckily no one was hurt today, but we urge parents to talk to their children about this troubling trend and tell them how dangerous it is to themselves and others.”


Stephanie Purifoy can be reached at stephanie.purifoy@globe.com