Attorney General Madigan calls for national recall on dangerous fuel gel products

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to immediately recall all fuel gel products in response to alarming reports of consumers in Illinois and across the country who’ve suffered severe burns in accidents involving fuel gel. Madigan also called on the CPSC to immediately ban the sale of fuel gel products and urged consumers to stop using the dangerous items.

“Recalling these items one by one won’t cut it,” Attorney General Madigan said. “In the midst of the summer season, many of these fuel gel products are already in people’s homes and backyards. We need to work quickly to alert consumers about the extreme dangers they pose.”

Earlier this summer, the Attorney General alerted consumers to the risk of severe and even life-threatening burns when using fuel gel products. The CPSC soon after recalled one fuel gel product made by Napa Home & Garden Inc. The company has since pulled its products from store shelves, but fuel gel products by other manufacturers, including BirdBrain, Inc., Windflame Inc. and Jason Metal Products Inc., continue to sell online and in stores around the country.

Fuel gel is poured into a firepot or similar vessel for use as a decorative flame or outdoor light. Madigan said reports have shown injuries 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 contact’s 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 said her office has received accounts of three fuel gel-related accidents in Illinois, and dozens of other injuries have been reported around the country. 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.

With the three known accidents in Illinois involving the BirdBrain brand, Madigan today subpoenaed the Ypsilanti, Mich.-based company, asking for any incidents reported to the company and for its Illinois sales and distribution information.

Madigan urged Illinoisans to immediately stop using fuel gel products. Any consumer who has suffered an injury in a fuel gel-related incident should immediately contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Attorney General also encouraged consumers to sign up for automatic recall notifications via email through the CPSC at Consumers seeking more information can also contact Madigan’s Product Recall Hotline at (888) 414-7678, TTY (800) 964-3012 and (866) 310-8398 for Spanish speaker