Decorative fire pots have a hidden danger

June 13, 2011 3:41:42 PM PDT
There is growing concern about a new home decoration that has already sent several people to the hospital.

Fire pots are becoming a popular backyard fixture outside homes across the country, but some say they hold a hidden danger.

Fire pots burn an alcohol-based gel fuel. It burns cleanly and often it is hard to tell if there is a flame at all.

The problem happens when people add fuel to the pot, thinking the flame is out when it is not.

Nancy Reyer told ABC's Good Morning America what happened when her son refilled a still-burning fire pot.

"And he poured some of the liquid in, and it just exploded, and all I saw was a flash and my son went up in flames," she said.

Reyer's son is now fighting for his life.

Bed Bath & Beyond, which sold the fire pot that burned Reyer's son, released the following statement:

"The safety of our customers and our associates is of paramount importance to us. So in an abundance of caution and pending our investigation, Bed Bath & Beyond has instructed its stores nationwide to suspend selling this product."

Fire pot maker Napa Home & Garden plans to put bigger and better warnings on its products, saying "it will issue a precautionary hold on sales of its gel burners and gel fuel in response to recent reports of injuries from its gel burner products."

Bellaire Fire Marshal Alton Moses says consumers should never add more fuel gel to a fire pot unless they snuff out the flame completely.

"Just like any other product, homeowners need to take care of themselves and read what they are using. If they are buying a product, especially a product like this, you really need to read the instructions on how it is supposed to be used," Moses said.

Moses says the clean-burning flame makes it difficult to see the fire in the pot, so consumers need to use caution when refilling the devices.

"Alcohol, unlike other fuels like diesel or gasoline, burns clear, so it is a clear flame," Moses said.

Other stores sell different versions of the fire pot. Those fire pots also burn with a flame that is difficult to see.

If you have a fire pot that uses gel fuel, firefighters say to be sure the fire is out completely before adding more.

There is no official recall on these products. Bed Bath & Beyond has pulled the product from store shelves, but other stores are still selling different kinds of fire pots that also use gel fuel.

The bottom line for those who have the fire pots: do not refill them if the fire is still burning.


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