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Serious Burns as a Result of Gel Fuels

Dangerous and Defective Products Lawsuit
11Gel Fuel Burns

Serious Burns as a Result of Gel Fuels

In recent months, there have been a number of catastrophic burn cases involving devices that use illuminating fuels. Two in New York occurred within a week of each other.

In two separate incidents, a 14-year-old boy and a 24-year-old man were severely injured by a gel fuel used in ceramic firepots that emit a citronella scent to keep mosquitoes at bay. The fuel was in the process of being refilled in both cases when “like gasoline” the fuel ignited.

In response to The New York Times inquiry regarding the incidents, Napa Home & Garden Inc. pulled the gel fuel product nationwide Friday, June 10, from Bed Bath & Beyond. The following notice also appeared on Bed Bath & Beyond’s website and was sent out to customers:

“There have been reports of accidents involving gel fuel and firepots. In connection with these reports, we have suspended the sale of these products.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning consumers to take precautions when using gel fuel and firepots, and to add fuel only when flames are extinguished and the container is cool to the touch.”

It should be noted, however, that some news reports reported the product was still available in stores after it was officially recalled, so consumers should be alert before purchasing any products they may think are similar to the product. Among other retailers and home improvement stores, Napa Home & Garden Inc. also sold products.

Safe from toxins, not from exploding vapors

Gelatinous fuel is labeled “safe,” but this term merely indicates it will not emit toxins for burning. Fuel Barons Inc. produces ethanol from recycled postconsumer waste.

Frequently, safe handling and use instructions are included on parts of the packaging that are discarded, so uneducated users or people lighting a long-established product have no idea how to safely handle and light it. They are assumed to be similar to candles, but they work quite differently.

Due to its 90% ethanol content, gel fuel is highly zammable. Attorney Anne McGinness Kearse states, “It is a clear, colorless, volatile, Zammable liquid.” The vapors released from Erepots can create a lamp-like zame as they escape the bottle.

Users often assume there is not enough fuel in the pot when it ignites slowly, but in reality there is enough fuel in the pot. In contrast, the Erepot may appear to have gone out, the fuel used up, and the Zame already extinguished.

As a result of adding fuel in either situation, the entire fuel bottle may ignite and explode, spraying lit gel fuel which is hard to remove from skin and clothing. Regarding two recent New York City incidents, from The New York Times’ City Room blog:

Witnesses in both cases said the result was like a napalm bomb going off: the bottles of fuel exploded in a flash. The flaming, jellied fuel stuck to skin and clothing. It refused to stop burning even when the victims dropped to the ground and rolled over, or when bystanders tried to smother the flames with blankets or clothing.

Warnings appear, as do reports of gel fuel burn injuries

On June 14,Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a “Press release on gel fuels and other illuminating fuels.” It recommended consumers not refuel hot products. Sadly, these warnings arrive too late for many who have already been burned, often severely.

There have been six other incidents reported in the City Room blog since April last year, excluding the two NY burn injuries already discussed.

GPW’s personal injury attorneys investigate cases where gel fuel has caused serious burns in Erepots or other items. NAPA Home and Garden Erepots or similar products, such as BirdBrain’s decorative Erepots, may cause injury to you or a loved one. Please contact us if this has happened to you.

Firepot and Fuel Manufacturers

Some companies that manufacture Erepots, gel fuel, and related products include:

  • Napa Home & Garden
  • Napa Home & Garden Firepots
  • NAPAfire
  • NAPAfire Gel Fuel with Citronella
  • NAPAfirelites or firelites
  • Bird Brain, Inc.
  • Firepot Fuel Gel
  • Firepot Citronella Fuel Gel
  • Fuel Barons
  • OZOFire Pourable Gel

Our Attorneys

11Joseph J. Cirilano

Joseph J. Cirilano

Shareholder / Attorney
11Diana Nickerson Jacobs

Diana Nickerson Jacobs

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Jason E. Luckasevic

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Charles J. McLeigh

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John N. Kelsey

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11John R. Pomerville

John R. Pomerville

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