Fire Gel Dangers Continue
Over the past several months an increasing number of burn injuries have been reported from consumers using “fire pots” and “fire gels.” Typically, the products used are a decorative container coupled with a gel product that produces a pleasant smell or is used to repel insects. However, when the “gel” appears to be used up or the wick appears not to be lit, consumers have been pouring the liquid gel into the pot, where it has ignited, exploded, or produced a flame spread not unlike a small flamethrower, causing burn injuries not only to the users but to bystanders.
In Southwest Michigan, this has happened several times, including earlier in the summer to a couple who suffered first, second, to possibly third degree burns and it again happened this week in Jenison, Michigan near Grand Rapids.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received a notice of injury from the Kalamazoo area incident and is also aware of the more recent incident. These products are dangerous–most consumers do not know about the dangers associated with the use of these products and that the lit “flame” is hard to see and thought to be extinguished when they attempt to reuse the gel. Or the flame is out but still “hot,” which can serve as an ignition source.
Previously, Varnum handled a number of burn cases involving the use of methanol during science experiments at school. During our re-creation with firefighters, we reproduced what happened by pouring methanol into petri dishes that had previously been lit and burned out, which produced a flamethrower effect.
These fire gel products are sold at many stores, and on the Internet, and most consumers have no idea of nor appreciation for the potential flame spread or explosion from these products. If you have been injured from these types of products, it is critically important to preserve the scene and evidence or have family members know about the need to do so. It is important to have an attorney and investigator trained in cause and origin and who has knowledge about flammability hazards, so that the facts can be determined and evidence preserved.
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