Madigan alerts consumers to recall of nine fuel gel products
Attorney General Lisa Madigan today heralded the voluntary recalls of pourable fuel gel products announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in response to reports of consumers in Illinois and across the country who suffered severe burn injuries, as well as two deaths, in accidents involving flaming fuel gel.
“Consumers should not use fuel gel products,” Attorney General Madigan said. “They amount to over-the-counter napalm and have already caused severe injuries and deaths.”
Last month, Attorney General Madigan called on the CPSC to issue a national recall of these products and a ban on the products’ sale. Madigan said the CPSC today announced the voluntary recalls with nine manufacturers and distributors, citing 65 incidents, including two deaths and 34 hospitalizations of consumers due to second- and third-degree burns.
The recall involves 2 million units of fuel gel packaged in one-quart plastic bottles and one-gallon plastic jugs sold since 2008 by BirdBrain Inc., Bond Manufacturing, Sunjel Company, Fuel Barons Inc., Lamplight Farms Inc., Luminosities Inc., Pacific Décor Ltd., Real Flame and Smart Solar USA. The CPSC also asked retailers to stop the sale of fuel gel and immediately remove the products from store shelves. Madigan urged quick action in advance of Labor Day weekend when consumers may be more likely to use these products at holiday parties and barbeques.
Fuel gel is usually sold in conjunction with a firepot or similar vessel for use as a decorative flame or outdoor light. Madigan said injuries have resulted when fuel gel spilled or was poured into a pot in attempt to light or re-light the flame, causing the product to explode into a fireball. When the gel contacts a person’s skin, it reacts similarly to napalm, making it nearly impossible to extinguish. Victims and witnesses 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.
The Attorney General’s Office has received accounts of three fuel gel-related accidents in Illinois. In the Chicago suburbs last year, a 3-year-old girl was critically injured when a firepot containing fuel gel manufactured by BirdBrain Inc. spilled, causing severe burns to her head and face. Last month, a Chicago man suffered serious and extensive injuries when fuel gel manufactured by BirdBrain exploded, causing burns to his face and arms. Madigan said a mother of four from downstate Illinois was also reportedly burned when a fuel gel product exploded at a backyard birthday party.
Madigan urged consumers to contact her office’s Product Recall Hotline for more information at (888) 414-7678, TTY (800) 964-3012 and (866) 310-8398 for Spanish speakers.
Consumers can report a dangerous product or a product-related injury to the CPSC by visiting SaferProducts.gov or calling its hotline at (800) 638-2772 or TTY at (800) 638-8270.