Attorney General calls for ban on gel fuel products

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the sale of gel fuel products used in portable fire pots.

Ceramic fire pots that use gel fuel have been around for about two decades, but they have recently become a popular way of creating ambience and repelling mosquitoes and other bugs.

"Here's the problem with the fuel gels," Attorney General Madigan told reporters today at a news conference at the Thompson Center. "They are usually sold in conjunction with a fire pot, and in these fire pots they have a metal container that you pour the fuel gel into. You then ignite that fuel gel and put it outside."

"For many people, what happens is they no longer believe that it's lit, and they end up pouring more of the fuel gel into the fire pot," she continued. "When they do this, it has horrible consequences."

Attorney General Madigan says an alarming number of people in Illinois and across the country have been gel fuel victims.

Chicagoan Jeff Sipple was one of them. He was an innocent bystander at a social gathering.

"I was probably seven to ten feet away," Sipple said at the news conference. "I think that's something that's very important for people to know. It's not that somebody was playing around. It burst into a ball and actually lit the left side of my body on fire."

"As we were trying to put it out, I was trying to stop, drop, and roll," he continued. "To give you an idea of how hard it is to put this stuff out -- as we're rolling, it's lighting the stuff that we're touching on fire. It's a pretty harrowing experience."

BirdBrain Fuel Gel was the product used in Sipple's accident. There are several manufacturers on the market, and Madigan is calling on the safety commission to ban all of them immediately.