June 1, 2011

The Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced a recall of the gel fuel used in ceramic firepots. Napa Home & Garden NAPAfire and FIREGEL Pourable Gel Fuel have been associated with 37 injury reports, 23 of which involved burns. Coincidentally, two lawsuits have been filed in federal court today by plaintiffs alleging severe burn injuries caused by the firepots and the gel fuel used with them.

The CPSC launched an investigation a week ago following a number of injury reports. In the recall issued today, the agency estimated that 460,000 bottles and jugs are currently in consumers’ homes or in the chain of distribution.

The two lawsuits filed today serve as grim examples of the kinds of injuries consumers may experience. In one, a woman was caught in a fireball when the gel exploded. Her burns were so serious she almost lost her left foot. Her husband was burned, too, when he tried to put out the fire.

In the other lawsuit, a woman who remains in intensive care was severely burned when a torch-life flame erupted from the firepot. Just as in the first case, her husband was also burned when he tried to extinguish the fire.

Firepots and their citronella fuel are used on patios and in gardens across the country as a way to ward off mosquitoes and other flying insects. The firepot itself is simply a ceramic pot with a metal cup in the middle. The consumer lights the fuel directly — there is no wick. But if the fuel splashes or the cup is overfilled, the consequences can be dire.

The suits name the firepot manufacturer and the fuel manufacturer as well as the distributer as defendants. Both sets of plaintiffs (the husbands are named as well) allege the defendants were negligent in design, manufacture and testing of the device. They also allege a failure to warn of the dangers of the fuel and the firepot.


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Napa Home & Garden Recalls NAPAfire and FIREGEL Pourable Gel Fuel Due to Fire and Burn Hazards,” 06/22/2011

The Post & Courier (Charleston, SC), “Lawsuits filed over firepots: West Ashley woman suffered severe burns,” Glenn Smith, 06/22/2011


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