Manufacturer: Not all gel fuels are unsafe

One day after local lawmakers urged the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to halt sales of gel fuel firepots, one company is calling for the ban to exclude a certain type of gel-fueled fire product.

The request for the recall came in the wake of the tragic accident in which 14-year-old Michael Hubbard of Riverhead suffered third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body following a gel candle explosion Memorial Day weekend. Michael poured the fuel, which is marketed as FireGel, into an already lit firepot causing the flames to engulf his body. Michael has been in the Intensive Care Unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center ever since.

Real Flame, a Wisconsin-based company that manufacturers gel-fueled fireplaces said the commission should distinguish between isopropyl alcohol-based fuels, like their products, and ethanol alcohol-based fuels, like the one used in Michael’s accident.

The company has sent a letter to Congressman Tim Bishop’s office urging him and other lawmakers to reconsider their request.

“I understand and appreciate the concern that the Congressman has and why he and others are as concerned as they have been, but I would ask that this not be turned into a blanket condemnation of all gel fuel or products while the CSPC investigation is ongoing,” John Ridgeway, the company’s vice president for sales and marketing wrote in the letter.

“[Real Flame has] sold over 250,000 bottles of our Isopropyl Alcohol based gel fuel in the past two years without a single incident. We also sell ceramic firepots and have done so the past two years, again without incident.”

The CPSC has said that it is investigating the matter.

Looking to comment on this article? Send us a letter to the editor instead.