Getting a Recovery for Burns from Firepots

The New Y0rk Times recently chronicled cases of horrific burn injuries from firepots.  See story here.

These are ceramic pots which are filled with a citronella fuel for use in backyard parties and barbeques.  The gel is inserted into the pot and ignited to burn a citronella scent to ward off insects.

The victims were burned by the flammable gel fuel which exploded.  The explosion sprays flaming jelly onto the victim.   The burning gel sticks to the victim’s body and clothes in a manner similar to napalm.  The flames will not go out even if the victim rolls on the ground. 

After The Times  reported about two incidents, other firepot accidents were reported.  See article here.  As a result, the manufacturer, Napa Home & Garden, asked its retailers to stop selling the product.  It was sold in New York by Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Similar products were made by BirdBrain, Inc., and are sold by Home Depot and Sam’s Club.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has opened an investigation. 

It appears that the product may not have had adequate instructions.

The victims may have two theories of recovery:

  1. Failure to warn.  The warnings may have been lacking or inadequate in view of the danger.
  2. Strict liability.  This claim is that the product was defectively designed in that it was unduly flammable for use by the general public.  A safer product could have been designed.

If you have been injured in a product explosion, please feel free to call us for a free consultation.  We have handled defective product cases involving serious burns.

Mark E. Seitelman, 6/16/11,


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