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.
• "Bird Brain Recalls Pourable Gel Fuel Due to Burn and Flash Fire Hazards," U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, October 5, 2011
• "Fuel Gel Consumer Recall," BirdBrain Inc.
• "Manufacturer Recalls Pourable Fuel Gel After Injuries in Firepot Accidents," NY Times, June 22, 2011.