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Earlier this month the Consumer Product Safety Commission initiated an investigation into serious burn incidents that are apparently related to a type of gel used in firepots. The investigation comes in the wake of a number of accidents that left victims severely burned when a firepot exploded in what some witnesses to the events describe as a napalm-like fashion.

The relatives of one of the victims explain that while the teenaged child was pouring some of the gel liquid into a lit firepot, the pot exploded, splattering him with flaming gel fuel. As a result, he sustained third degree burns coving over 40% of his body. Just a few days later, 24 year old Nick Stone was a victim of a similar incident, suffering second and third degree burns over 40 percent of his body when a firepot exploded, throwing gel on his body.

The products in question in both of these two incidents, and which appear to be the subject of the CPSC investigation, are a citronella gel marketed as “the Safe Pourable Gel” under the FireGel label and used with ceramic fire pots manufactured by Napa Home & Garden Inc and sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Napa has reportedly requested the retailer to pull the products from the shelves, although an official recall does not appear to have been issued.

The victims and their families have alleged that the products came without sufficient warning labels about the fire and explosion hazards and that they lacked adequate instructions for safe use. Similar products involving gel fuels only recently appeared on the market around 2008 and as a result, consumers are unfamiliar with their risks and how to use them safely.

While the CPSC carries out its investigation and gel candles appear to remain on the market, consumers should either avoid using them altogether or exercise extreme caution when using them. The CPSC warns of the burn hazard associated with the gel fuels and firepots and recommends that consumers never refuel a hot or currently burning product.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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