The brand of gel candle that critically injured 14-year-old Michael Hubbard of Riverhead May 29 is being voluntarily recalled by its manufacturer after a second explosion less than a week later seriously injured two New York City men.

The manufacturer of “Fireburners,” Napa Home and Garden Inc. of Deluth, Ga., has instructed retailers to pull the products off store shelves, according to a New York Times report published today. Bed Bath & Beyond corporate headquarters ordered its stores Friday afternoon to stop selling the products, the Times reports. On Saturday morning, the Fireburners products were no longer on display at the Riverhead Bed Bath & Beyond store in the Riverhead Centre shopping plaza on Route 58.

Napa did not return phone calls Friday by RiverheadLOCAL, but a spokesman for the company told The New York Times the products would be pulled from shelves “until it could add much more visually arresting new warning labels” to them that clearly identify the potential hazards of i2011_0611_fireburners_gel_labelts use.

The “Fireburners” product is a ceramic pot with a removable stainless steel cylinder that holds eight ounces of liquid “FireGel,” an ethanol fuel also sold by Napa. “FireGel” is sold separately from the ceramic pots in 32-ounce plastic bottles that read: “FireGel…the Safe Pourable Gel.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told the Times the agency has opened an investigation into the safety of the product. The spokesperson said the agency had received eight reports of explosions or burns involving firepots or gel fuel in the past year, not including the two most recent cases in New York, according to the Times article by David Halbfinger. It was not immediately known whether the other cases involved the Napa products or a similar product manufactured and marketed by another company.

{sidebar id=35}Six days after the explosion that left Michael Hubbard in critical condition in ICU at Stony Brook University Medical Center, a nearly identical scenario unfolded on a Manhattan terrace, badly burning two friends. Nick Stone and Jonathan Mitzman were relaxing at Mitzman’s apartment, according to the Times report. When Mitzman attempted to add “FireGel” fuel to the ceramic pot, there was an explosion like that described by Michael Hubbard’s mother, Nancy Reyer, in her sister’s backyard a week earlier. Mitzman’s friend, Nick Stone, was engulfed in flames.

Stone remains in critical condition in a Manhattan hospital, where he is “on and off a ventilator,” according to the story.

The story recounted to the Times by Mitzman — who was also hospitalized for serious burns — is nearly identical to the story of Michael Hubbard’s horrific accident.

In each incident, the person attempting to refill the ceramic pot’s stainless steel cylinder with FireGel fuel did not realize the remaining fuel in the cylinder was burning. Adding the FireGel ethanol fuel — a class 3 flammable liquid, according to fine print on the bottle’s label — resulted in an explosion that covered the victims’ bodies in flaming gel.

“We want to see these dangerous products taken off the shelves before other people are hurt,” Michael’s aunt, Fran Reyer-Johnson, told RiverheadLOCAL earlier this week — before she knew “Fireburners” had critically injured another young man days earlier.

Michael remains in critical condition at Stony Brook. He is on a ventilator, fighting an infection and complications from his wounds that continue to threaten his life. He succumbed to his injuries Thursday night, but doctors were able to resuscitate him, Reyer-Johnson said.

“Michael is still holding his own,” his aunt wrote in an online message late Friday night. “His blood pressure is fluctuating. The doctors like his progress.  He is still fighting for his life. We ask for continued prayers. We are still on a 24 hours watch.”


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