A product that should have carried a very clear and detailed warning of its dangers is causing severe injuries. The product is called “Napafire”, distributed through Bed, Bath & Beyond (and other national distributors); and is packaged and distributed by Napa Home & Garden, Inc.
The NAPA product is manufactured with a gelatin type consistency and contains ethanol as its primary flammable component. NAPA promotes the product as “clean burning” and good for the environment. The victims of what becomes an explosive fire ball have described it differently:
- A Molotov cocktail.
- Like gasoline in a bottle.
- A lethal weapon.
Every flammable compound has a “flash point” and each varies from substance to substance. The “flash point” is the temperature at which a compound, liquid or material can ignite into flame and begin to combust. Gasoline, for example, has a flash point at a much lower temperature than does fuel oil.
Napafire is a compound with a reasonably low flash point. It oxidizes into a gaseous form slower than many compounds and ignites slow. It does, however, burn at a high temperature and results in heating the containing vessel to high temperatures. As a result, whatever Napafire is contained within is going to heat to significant temperatures and will probably remain there for a period of time. So, it is not only the compound burning, but its container that provides a hazard for flash ignition.
Add to these issues, Napafire burns relatively hot and clean and can burn with what the manufacturer describes as a “nearly invisible flame.” This presents a hazard for the consumer in determining whether the Napafire flame is extinguished or not.
Napafire might fairly be compared to napalm. Napalm was a highly flammable weapon used in Vietnam extensively. Napalm was used primarily because of its gel-like consistency. When ignited and dispersed, it would adhere to everything it touched with a hot, searing burn. Efforts to extinguish napalm are largely unsuccessful and the burning gel flows along everything it touches.
These are some of the problems, which have led to serious injuries resulting in explosions and serious burns caused by the fuel-gel burning pots, Napafire.
Our firm is currently investigating the details of serious and tragic injury to a person in South Florida recently. Immediately, our analysis has led us to identify very significant design, use and warning problems with these devices and the fuel gel being used in them, such as this pictured below.
Napa Home & Garden’s president, Jerry Cunningham has admitted that the “warning label on the firepot was a small sticker on part of the pot’s packaging,” which was meant to be thrown away.”
Take great care in using these fuel gel burning pots, including not trying to refill them unless you are absolutely sure they are extinguished and have had ample time to cool before adding additional fuel gel to them. Better advice would be to simply not use these devices at all.
Reports of other incidents include:
- June 10, Granger, Ind.: A contractor, was at his neighbors house watching their dogs romp in the yard when his neighbor tried to refill a firepot and it erupted with a fireball into his lap. Nothing would put it out, he said from his hospital bed on Monday.
- June 3, Omaha, Neb.: A food-industry executive, tried to refill a Napa Home & Garden firepot that he was sure had burned out. It sent a fireball streaming out of the fuel bottle like a flamethrower, Mr. McCutcheon said, seriously wounding his wife, his 9-year-old daughter, and his sister-in-law.
- May 28, Huntingtown, Md.: A woman was visiting old high school friends for a cookout when someone tried to refill a Napa Home & Garden firepot that seemed to have run out of fuel. It exploded on her. Tragically, this lady is still on a respirator at Washington Hospital Centers burn unit, according to Maryland fire marshals.
- March 31, Encino, Calif.: A nine year old girl was with a friend when the friends father started performing tricks with a Napa Home & Garden firepot, according to a lawsuit accusing the hosts of gross negligence. When the man poured more fuel into the pot, it erupted onto the young girl, sending her to the hospital for 14 days with severe burns.
- June 10, 2010, Carlstadt, N.J.: A teenager was seriously burned on more than a third of her body when a firepot made by a different company, BirdBrain Inc., erupted as her mother refilled it. She spent more than five weeks in the hospital.
- April 3, 2010, Baltimore: A young boy was in his aunts backyard when a BirdBrain firepot tipped over, spilling flaming fuel gel over his left side and leg. He spent 51 days in the hospital. His arduous rehabilitation has been chronicled in videos on YouTube by his mother.