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‘This can become very dangerous’: Fire department warns of viral social media trend

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    OMAHA, NE (KETV) — Omaha firefighters are sounding the alarm over a new social media challenge.

Firefighters said young people are starting fires on purpose and posting about it on an app. Firefighters hope parents help put this new craze out.

The videos can be found on TikTok, an app that allows users to create short videos.

The Omaha Fire Department hopes to reach the teens on the app and teach them how dangerous this “challenge” can be.

One video shows a teenager with his face over an outlet before he drops a coin onto a charger hanging out of the wall outlet. It results in a large spark.

Scroll TikTok for a bit, or click the “outlet challenge” hashtag and you’ll find dozens of clips showing the same thing. Omaha firefighter Verrell Gordon said those viral videos are sparking an alarming trend across the country.

“That current will start a spark and cause a fire to start very, very quickly,” Gordon said.

He said there’s also a danger the teens don’t see.

“When you go to put it out, it looks like the fire is out, but really, the fire is behind the wall and it’s smoldering, and before you know it half your house is on fire,” Gordon said.

Fires double in size every 30 seconds. Behind your wall, you might not even know it’s burning.

Gordon said there’s another trend on the app involving cigarette lighters.

“So, they take these lighters, and they show you how to take these lighters apart and they’ll turn it into a flamethrower, or turn it into a sparkler, which is really, really dangerous,” Gordon said.

Even more concerning, Gordon said the trend is growing in popularity. The location where the videos are shot is worrisome too.

“The numbers are drastically going up on youths setting fires, and a lot of these fires are happening inside our public schools, which, as you know, those are full of children and teachers, so this can become very dangerous,” Gordon said.

Gordon wants parents to talk to their kids before someone gets hurt.

“If you hear them talking about it, it’s just a matter of time before they try it,” he said.

OFD does have a Firesetter program for kids and teens who may be showing signs of fire curiosity or starting fires. Call the Fire Department at 402-444-3560 to enroll in the free class.

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