CPSC investigates claims of injuries from firepots and their fuel

Courtesy Consumer Product Safety Commission Safer Products website - picture submitted by consumer

Look around your yard this weekend as there may be a fire hazard. Firepots and the gel that’s used to fuel them are under investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission over reports of injuries.  A national retailer is also pulling the products off store shelves over the alleged safety concerns.

The New York Times first reported that two people were severely injured in New York when they tried to light a ceramic firepot with a jelly-like citronella fuel.

The CPSC issued a warning for fuel pots and tiki torches telling consumers to only add fuel to any product when it’s cool. Fuel splattering and burns are problems when fuel is added to a hot product. The CPSC is investigating the specific claims of burns related to the pots and gel-like fuel.

The reports of injuries led Napa Home and Garden to issue a precautionary stop on future sales of gel burners and fuel at retailers . Bed Bath & Beyond is one of the retailers and announced it will stop sales until further notice.

“We have sold tens of thousands of Fire Burners and fuel during the last two years and have always considered them safe products,” Napa Home and Garden owner, Jerry Cunningham said.

Gel burners are new products in the market. Napa said it relies on guidance from its fuel supplier to create safety directions for the product. The company says it believes the product is safe, but is taking this step of halting sales to reaffirm the safety. A third-party expert will review the warning labels and instructions.

Napa says there are already extensive warnings on the fuel containers and in the care and use instructions. “In spite of all the warnings, which are as good or better that any others in the industry, we need to see what else we can do to make sure our products are safe and people know how to use them safely,” declared Cunningham.

The incidents are also being investigated to figure out if there was a bad batch of fuel.

If you have a problem with a product like this, contact the CPSC. The government agency has a safety database, Safer Products, that can be searched to find complaints. I searched “firepot” and found one report involving a product bought in Washington. The consumer reports that the indoor/outdoor pot caused nearly $3,000 in damage, and included a picture of a burnt couch or futon type product. According to this report, when the consumer tried to snuff the firepot, “the flaming gel erupted volcano style throwing gel at least 5 feet across her living room…”

When I searched “fire pot”, I found another report from a consumer who bought a different brand firepot from a different retailer. However, they report the pot exploded.  The California consumer says the gel was burning a long time before it exploded. The consumer then wrote, “Consumer was spared, but dog was struck, and caught fire. Table caught fire and gel landing on concrete patio burned for up to 15 minutes. Dog ran and caught some grass and plants on fire in yard.” The consumer said the expenses for the dog were approaching $12,000. The dog has third degree burns over 35% of his body.

These reports in the CPSC database are unconfirmed. They are simply consumer accounts of what happened.

One response to “CPSC investigates claims of injuries from firepots and their fuel

  1. Pingback: CPSC recalls firepot fuel after reports of burns | Jenn Strathman