Individuals who purchased or were injured by gel fuel or fire pots.
What's The Problem?
An alleged design defect can lead to sudden explosions and serious injury, including death.
Napa Home & Garden, Bird Brain Inc., Bond Manufacturing, Sunjel Company, Fuel Barons Inc, Lamplight Farms Inc., Luminosities Inc., Pacific Decor Ltd., Real Flame, Smart Solar USA, and others.
Attorneys are investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of consumers who were injured while using fire pots. Reports have surfaced that certain brands of fire pots and fuel gel pots pose a serious safety hazard and, in light of this information, attorneys like to hear from anyone who was burned or otherwise injured while using a fire pot. These consumers may be able to seek compensation for medical bills and other damages by filing a lawsuit against the product's manufacturer.
Why Are Gel Fuel and Fire Pots Dangerous?
Fire pots are designed to be refillable, with the retailer FireGel marketing the product as “the Safe Pourable Gel.” In theory, when a fire pot has used all of its fuel, users can refill the gel fuel and relight the pot. However, in situations where the fire pots have not completely gone out, fuel can ignite and explode while it is being poured, posing a serious risk to anyone nearby. Fire pots do not have a wick and, as such, it can be difficult to ascertain whether they are already lit, according to some injured users. According to one report, some users have confused fire pots with citronella candles, believing that fuel can be poured in if no flame is visible. Unfortunately, this can lead to sudden explosions.
The nature of the gel fuel also adds to the danger. Lawsuits note that the fuel is sticky and very difficult to put out using commonly known firefighting techniques such as “stop drop and roll.” In one case, doing so only set the floor on fire as the injured man continued to struggle to extinguish the flames. Regulators have also noted that using the “stop, drop and roll” technique can actually increase injuries as it spreads the burning gel.
Have Fire Pot Lawsuits Been Filed Over Injures?
Multiple lawsuits have been filed across the United States over alleged fire pot explosions.
In July 2011, a lawsuit was filed in Alabama after a man was badly burned in a flash fire pot explosion. Chris Kutsor, of Madison, Alabama, was injured when a family member poured fuel into a Bird Brain Inc. fire pot “as instructed” when the pot had gone out. According to the suit, the fuel ignited and exploded, causing serious burns to Kutsor and family members. Kutsor was airlifted to a burn center and was, according to his attorney, “severely burned” after his neck, chest and face were covered with burning gel, which set fire to his hair, shirt and skin. The lawsuits argued that the fuel gel and fuel pot were defective and unreasonably dangerous, did not carry adequate safety warnings, and had “an extremely high risk of combustion which exposes users […] to serious injury and illness.”
In April 2013, Bird Brain Inc. settled the lawsuit for $225,000, according to news reports.
A number of separate lawsuits have been filed after numerous consumers reported serious injuries when using the fire pots. In 2011, the New York Times reported on incidents involving a 14-year-old boy who was seriously injured when a bottle of fuel exploded while a fire pot was being lit, as well as a 24-year-old man who required a ventilator after an “almost identical” blaze on June 3. The report details a further six incidents in which consumers were seriously injured while refilling or lighting firepots.
The number of injuries and product failures led to a motion being filed in October 2012 by Bed, Bath & Beyond, who sold many of the products, to remove itself from a lawsuit filed by a consumer. The company claimed that the firepot manufacturers – in this case, Losorea Packaging – were the ones who were culpable. The motion states that “if [Bed Bath & Beyond] is held liable to plaintiff for the injuries she sustained, it is entitled to indemnification and/or contribution from these [firepot manufacturers].”
Has There Been a Fire Pot Recall?
In September 2011, a voluntary recall of around two million bottles and jugs of fuel gel, manufactured by nine different companies, was announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall was part of an agreement between the manufacturers and the CPSC in which the commission agreed not to publicize or share a video of the products exploding in a testing lab.
The CPSC statement included the following warning:
“The pourable gel fuel can ignite unexpectedly and splatter onto people and objects nearby when it is poured into a firepot that is still burning. CPSC is aware of 65 incidents resulting in two deaths and 34 victims who were hospitalized with second and third degree burns of the face, chest, hands, arms or legs. Of the 65 incidents, 28 of them, including 37 burn injuries and two fatalities, occurred with fuel gel products made by Napa Home & Garden, which conducted a recall of its products in June 2011, in cooperation with CPSC. Also in June, CPSC issued a press statement alerting consumers to the hazards of pourable gel fuels. All pourable gel fuel, regardless of manufacturer, poses flash fire hazards.”
The companies subject to the recall agreement are:
Bird Brain, Inc.
Fuel Barons, Inc.
Lamplight Farms, Inc.
Pacific Décor, Ltd
Smart Solar USA
Following the reports of injuries and the CPSC’s recall notice, many nationwide stores stopped selling the products.
If you have been injured by a fire pot explosion, a lawsuit may be one way to seek compensation for your losses.