Gel Candles Recalled Following Long Island Accident

A 14-year-old Long Island boy is fighting for his life at the Stony Brook University Medical Center following an accident with a <"">gel candle. The candle maker issued a recall of the defective candle after a New York Times expose on the dangers of gel candles was printed, said the Riverhead News Review.

On May 28, Michael Hubbard, poured citronella-scented candle gel into a lit candle. He was in Riverhead at his aunt’s, Fran Reyer-Johnson’s, for her wedding when the gel bottle exploded in his hand, leaving him with third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body, said the Riverhead News Review; his mother, Nancy Reyer, also sustained injuries when she tried to put out the flames. Michael has been in the Intensive Care Unit since the accident.

Jerry Halpin, a neighbor and witness who also tried to extinguish the fire, described the candle gel as “napalm.” “It sounds horrific because it was,” said Mr. Halpin, pastor at Riverhead’s North Shore Christian Church, quoted the Riverhead News Review. “[The gel] wasn’t released from his body,” Pastor Halpin added. Witnesses to the accident said the gel “exploded into a fireball,” quoted The Gothamist.

In a similar accident a few days later in Manhattan, Nick Stone, 24, suffered second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body, according to his step-father, John LaViolette, wrote the Riverhead News Review, which said that Nick has been hospitalized at New York Presbyterian Hospital since the accident. Jon Mitzman, 24, said he added more gel when his fuel pot burned out, “So I went to pour more fuel in. All I heard was a bang,” quoted The Gothamist. Mitzman was unhurt, but is best friend, Nick, was covered in the flaming gel for several minutes before his friends were able to put out the fire. Nick is facing a number of surgeries and months of rehabilitation.

Both tragedies involved FireGel brand citronella gel, a candle gel that is meant to be poured into ceramic fire pots and which could be bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond, said the Riverhead News Review.

Records indicate, noted the Riverhead News Review, that other accidents have been attributed to the dangerous candle product in recent years. For instance a woman, 42, suffered from second-degree burns on August, 23, 2010 and a man received burns to his legs on June 24 of that year in what the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) described as nearly identical accidents, according to the Riverhead News Review. In the past three years, records indicate 10 cases of people receiving first-, second-, and third-degree burns from gel candles, said the Riverhead News Review.

The New York Times report stated that Napa Home & Garden Inc., manufacturer of firepots and packager of the fuel, told Bed Bath & Beyond to pull both products from its shelves when it heard of the accidents, said the Riverhead News Review. Napa Home & Garden Inc., intends to add revised warning labels on both products. A Bed Bath & Beyond spokesperson confirmed the recall, said The New York Times.

The Gothamist noted that the products are marketed as “the Safe Pourable Gel.” The fuel pots and the gel carry small warning labels “meant to be thrown away,” wrote The Gothamist. Napa Home & Garden Inc. told The New York Times that, “there is more than likely a learning curve for the marketplace that needs to take place.” Meanwhile, Michael remains in grave condition, “his heart stopped overnight and he was revived, but his organs are failing,” quoted the Gothamist.

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