On September 20, 2011, a brother and sister from Harvey, Illinois, a south
suburb of Chicago, filed a complaint against BirdBrain, Inc. and Target
Corporation for injuries they sustained when the firepot they were using
exploded, causing flammable fire fuel gel to splatter on them, producing
third degree burns.
The suit alleges that the Plaintiff-consumers purchased the firepot lantern
at the Target store in nearby Tinley Park, Illinois and that after igniting
the “fire fuel gel,” a flammable lighter gel that comes pre-packaged
with the firepot, the two were injured when the firepot exploded. Similar
complaints have been made across the country, prompting Birdbrain, Inc.
to issue a recall of its fire gel product.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC), which
issued a warning about two weeks after the Illinois complaint was filed,
the pourable gel fuel “can ignite unexpectedly and splatter onto
people and objects nearby when it is poured into a firepot that is still
burning.” The CPSC recall makes reference to at least 20 other incidents
resulting in 11 injuries that involved first-, second- and third-degree burns.
Victims of similar accidents involving a competitor’s fire fuel gel
have compared the flammable substance to Napalm, saying it exploded suddenly,
sticking to their clothing and skin and it would not stop burning even
when the victims dropped and rolled on the ground or covered the flames
with a blanket.
The Harvey, IL Plaintiffs are represented by Devon C. Bruce of Power Rogers
& Smith, P.C. of Chicago. The suit alleges counts of strict liability
and negligence against BirdBrain, Inc. and Target for their role in manufacturing,
selling and exposing the general public to the dangerous and defective
fire fuel gel. Additionally, the suit alleges that BirdBrain, Inc. and
Target failed to provide adequate warnings to consumers regarding the
fuel gel’s explosive tendencies. Mr. Bruce commented, “the
Defendant’s recall of its product together with the number of incidents
involving the fire gel demonstrate the dangerous nature of this product.”
The case is currently pending in the Northern District of Illinois Federal
Court, and the parties are conducting discovery in order to determine
exactly how the incident occurred.