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RECALL: Firepot Fuel Gels

Your backyard patio may have just lost a little ambiance, but it also got a whole lot safer.

According to an article on WRAL.com, nine companies are recalling about 2 million bottles and jugs of the gel fuel used in outdoor patio decorations known as firepots. The gels pose a risk of serious burns.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the gel fuel has been linked to several dozen cases in which people were burned when they couldn’t tell whether the flame was out. Pouring more gel on a burning pot can lead to dangerous flares or burns.

And the scary part is that the typical advice of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” doesn’t work to extinguish these gel fires.

Dr. Scott Colquhoun was using a firepot at his Carolina Beach home last May. He said the fire appeared to be out, but when he went to refill the pot, the bottle exploded! The fuel and flames coated his clothes.

“I rolled and I rolled and rolled,” he said. “I still couldn’t put the fire out.”

Similar explosions have killed two people and burned at least 75 others.

This is a difficult recall for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) because firepots are considered small, benign decorations. There’s a sense of “It can’t happen to me.” The problems arise when a small fire is still burning at the bottom of the firepot, but the consumer believes that the fire is out. When gel is poured in the firepot to refresh the flame, there is a flash-fire created by the alcohol-based gel. The only sure way to put out the fire is with a dry powder extinguisher.

Nine companies have voluntarily recalled their fuel gel, and CPSC is still negotiating with another company. Those ten companies are:

  • Bird Brain Inc. of Ypsilanti, Mich.;
  • Bond Manufacturing of Antioch, Calif.;
  • Sunjel Company of Milwaukee;
  • Fuel Barons Inc. of Lake Tahoe, Nev.;
  • Lamplight Farms Inc. of Menomonee Falls, Wis.;
  • Luminosities Inc. of St. Paul, Minn.;
  • Pacific Decor Ltd. of Woodinville, Wash.;
  • Real Flame of Racine, Wis.;
  • Smart Solar USA of Oldsmar, Fla.
  • Marshall Group of Elkhart, Ind.

The CPSC urges people to stop using the pourable gel fuel, and to contact the manufacturer or distributor for a refund.

“This is an extremely serious issue and that is why we are urging consumers to take this recall seriously and to heed our warning,” said Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the CPSC.

To read the full article on WRAL.com—which includes a video of a flashfire created by the fuel gel—click here:  Nine Companies Recall Fuel Gel for Firepots

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