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According to an article which appeared in the New York Times, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), in conjunction with the manufacturer, has issued a recall of about 460,000 jugs and bottles of pourable fuel gel. The manufacturer, Napa Home and Garden, markets the gel fuel under the brand names NAPAfire and FIREGEL and sells it at retailers Bed Bath & Beyond, ShopKo and Restoration Hardware, and through Amazon.com and catalog retailers aimed at lawn and garden.

The gel is used as fuel in decorative fire pots but numerous burn accidents, some very serious or almost fatal, have been reported. One 14-year-old Long Island boy remains in a coma after being burned in a gel explosion. The company acknowledged reports of 37 explosions, with 23 of them resulting in injuries. Some who have seen the explosions liken the gel to napalm. The explosions occur when the fuel is poured into a pot that has been ignited by a consumer that did not know or could not tell that the pot was burning. As the fuel is poured onto a flame, it can flash back or splatter on people nearby and the flames spread rapidly from the contact points.

Affected consumers report that it is very difficult to see the gel burning clothing or skin because it is clear and the flames are barely discernible. They also report that it is virtually impossible to put the flames out. Yesterday, I saw a controlled demonstration of how the flames spread on a cotton t-shirt and how hard it was for a professional to put the flames out – it was alarming.

Napa Home and Garden is offering full refunds from $5 – $78 to consumers who return the product to the original merchant. The recall notice also advises that consumers immediately stop the use of the fuel in existing fire pots. After what I saw during the demonstration, that is sound advice.

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