[Caption: Napa Home & Garden’s products are responsible for at least 37 burn injuries and two deaths. (Photo courtesy of CPSC)]
With summer winding down, most of us are looking back on barbecues and cook-outs with pleasure. But for some families, this summer will carry with it unfortunate memories of ghastly burns – due to dangerous products called “fuel gels.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fuel gels have so far caused at least two deaths and sixty serious injuries. The sheer scope of the injuries has prompted the CPSC to issue a sweeping recall of 2 million containers of pourable gel fuels.
“Due to the serious risks of flash fire and burns when consumers add pourable gel to an already burning fire pot, consumers should immediately stop using the pourable gel fuel,” said the CPSC’s notice.
Earlier this summer, we discussed the dangers of gel fuels, in response to a press release issued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan urging their recall. Since then, I’ve received many reports of people being burned by these volatile gels.
What makes these products so hazardous, is their tendency to explode and “jump” from person to person, without any warning. Many burn accounts have included details about “flaming fireballs” that are nearly impossible to extinguish.
“We’re talking about fuel that has a gel that actually becomes like a napalm because it will not only burn, but it will actually adhere to you,” said Ray Yeakley, Public Information Officer for the Hillsborough Country Fire Rescue in California, in a recent news story. “[The gels] have a tendency to stay a lot longer, and increase the risk for long-term damage.”
The CPSC recall lists ten fire gel manufacturers, including:
- Bird Brain Inc., of Ypsilanti, Michigan
- Bond Manufacturing, of Antioch, California
- Sunjel Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Fuel Barons Inc. of Lake Tahoe, Nevada
- Lamplight Farms Inc of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
- Luminosities Inc (Windflame) of St. Paul, Minnesota
- Pacific Décor Ltd. of Woodinwille, Washington
- Real Flame of Racine, Wisconsin
- Smart Solar Inc. of Oldsmar, Florida
- Napa Home & Garden of Duluth, Georgia (Recalled in June, 2010)
Napa Home & Garden’s products alone have so far caused two deaths and at least thirty burn injuries.
The widespread nature of these injuries is truly appalling, as is most companies’ reluctance to issue formal apologies. I’d urge anyone who’s reading this to dispose of any fuel gels immediately. Though most of these products do carry warnings, they’re obviously insufficient, and are not enough to protect consumers from the inherent dangers of these volatile substances.
If you or a family member have been injured by products from one of the aforementioned ten companies, you may have grounds for a product liability lawsuit.
Seller of Recalled Candle Fuel Burns in Chapter 11 July 7, 2011, Wall Street Journal
Flaming Gel Fuel from Firepots Lead to Injuries; Deaths August 10, 2011, The Chicago Tribune