Fuel gel companies voluntarily recall products

By Bryan Cohen | Sep 1, 2011


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan heralded the voluntary recalls of pourable fuel gel that was announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday.

The CPSC announced the recall in response to reports of consumers in Illinois and across the county who suffered severe burn injuries, as well as two deaths, in accidents that involved flaming fuel gel.

"Consumers should not use fuel gel products," Madigan said. "They amount to over-the-counter napalm and have already caused severe injuries and deaths."

Last month, Madigan called on the CPSC to issue a national recall of fuel gel products and a ban on the products' sale. The CPSC announced the voluntary recalls with nine manufacturers and distributors this week, citing 65 incidents, including 34 hospitalizations and two deaths of consumers due to second- and third-degree burns.

The recall involves two million units of fuel gel packaged in one gallon plastic jugs and one quart plastic bottles sold since 2008 by Smart Solar USA, Red Flame, Pacific Decor Ltd., Luminosities Inc., Lamplight Farms Inc., Fuel Barons Inc., Sunjel Company, Bond Manufacturing and BirdBrain Inc. The CPSC also asked retailers to stop the sale of these products and immediately remove them from the store shelves.

Madigan urged quick action in advance of Labor Day weekend when consumers might be more likely to use these products at holiday barbeques and parties.

Fuel gel is typically sold in conjunction with a firepot or similar vessel for use as an outdoor light or a decorative flame. Injuries have resulted when fuel gel spilled or was poured into a pot in attempt to light or re-light the flame. This caused the product to explode into a fireball. When the gel contacts a person's skin, it reacts in a similar fashion to napalm, making it almost impossible to extinguish. Witnesses and victims indicate that traditional ways to put out a flame, such as dropping and rolling, don't work. The flaming gel ignites other materials and does not stop burning.

Madigan's office has received accounts of three fuel gel-related accidents in Illinois. Last year in the Chicago suburbs, a three-year-old girl was critically injured when a firepot containing fuel gel manufactured by BirdBrain Inc. spilled, causing severe burns to her face and head. Last month, a Chicago man suffered extensive and serious injuries when fuel gel manufactured by BirdBrain exploded, causing burns to his arms and face. Additionally, a mother of four from downstate Illinois was reportedly burned when a fuel gel product exploded at a backyard birthday party.

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