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September 2, 2011

State Fire Marshal Issues Important Consumer Warning About Gel Fire Pots
Product Can Be Dangerous; Extreme Caution Urged

CHICAGO - The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) today issued a statewide consumer alert to warn residents of potential fire and explosion hazards surrounding the recreational use of alcohol-fueled gel fire pots. While the product is designed as a household decoration or outdoor patio fixture, OSFM’s fire safety and prevention officials are concerned about increased dangers associated with the use of this flammable consumer product.

“This is an alert to educate every resident of Illinois about the potential harm of that product,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Those gel pots can be dangerous and should be used with extreme caution.”

Fire departments and agencies in Illinois and elsewhere in the U.S. have seen a spike in fires related to the use of gel fire pots including two reported incidents in Illinois—both in the Quad Cities—and nearly 40 nationwide with more than half those resulting in serious injuries and property damage. Nearby in Iowa, there were four reported fires including one in the past week that sent a man to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns.

Gel fire pots typically include a metal container within a decorative ceramic pot. The alcohol-based fuel (or gel) sits inside the metal container, which burns through a wick protruding from the top. Some of the incidents have occurred as the consumer attempts to refill the unit. Because the alcohol sometimes burns with a nearly invisible flame, the act of pouring more fuel can cause a flashover explosion that sends burning gel in all directions.

The high number of incidents has prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate cases of fires and injuries caused by gel fire pots. CPSC has ordered recalls of some pots while some retailers have been voluntarily removing the product from store shelves.

OSFM advises consumers to carefully read instructions and warnings on the gel packaging before its use and avoid refilling gel fire pots until the pot is empty or completely extinguished..

For more information about fire safety or to access other programs and services available through the OSFM visit www.state.il.us/osfm.


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