A maker of pourable fuel gel for decorative firepots is recalling about a half-million bottles after learning of dozens of accidents, including two near-fatal ones in New York, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced on Wednesday.
Reports of severe burn accidents connected to the use of gel-fueled firepots, a relatively new product, have surfaced in states like California, Florida and Indiana since The New York Times first reported on June 11 on the two accidents in New York. One involved a 14-year-old Riverhead boy who remains in a coma in a Long Island hospital.
In these and other cases, witnesses and victims likened the fuel gel to napalm, saying it exploded in a flash, stuck to clothing and would not stop burning even when a victim dropped to the ground and rolled or the flames were covered with a blanket.
The commission said the manufacturer, Napa Home and Garden Inc. of Duluth, Ga., had become aware of 37 reported accidents, 23 of them involving injuries to consumers. The company has sold 460,000 containers of the fuel, a form of ethanol, in quart bottles and gallon jugs, since December 2009, under the names Napafire and Firegel.
Napa Home and Garden is offering full refunds of $5 to $78 to consumers who return the fuel to the original merchant — whether they bought it from retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, ShopKo or Restoration Hardware, or through Amazon.com, catalog companies, decorators or landscape architects.
Napa Home’s are not the only fuel gel products linked to serious burn cases: BirdBrain Inc., a rival manufacturer based in Ypsilanti, Mich., is being sued by the parents of a 13-year-old New Jersey girl, an 8-year-old Maryland boy and a 3-year-old Illinois girl, each of whom spent weeks in the hospital recovering from severe burns last year.
The recall does not extend to BirdBrain products, but a commission spokesman said its investigation into other companies and burn cases was “open and active.”
The commission’s inquiry began after The Times reported on the fuel gel explosions that injured Michael Hubbard, 14, of Riverhead, on Long Island, and Nick Stone, 24, of Manhattan, and one of his friends. Mr. Stone has had surgery a half-dozen times and still faces many more procedures, his stepfather said Wednesday.
Mr. Hubbard remains in a coma and on a ventilator, his aunt said, but his condition had improved enough for doctors to apply skin grafts to most of his wounds on Tuesday. A Suffolk County legislator has introduced a bill, called “Michael’s Law,” to ban the sale of fuel gels there.
Napa Home and Garden is being sued in federal court in Spartanburg, S.C., by a Florida couple who were seriously wounded there in May. The woman, Barbara Satterfield, remains in the intensive care unit at a burn center in Augusta, Ga., according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday.