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Long Island Backyard Firepot Explosion Part Of Alarming Trend

14-Year-Old Severely Burned, Kidneys & Lungs Near Failure
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Firepot

A backyard firepot (credit: CBS 2)

jennifermclogan Jennifer McLogan
Jennifer McLogan returned to WCBS-TV in 1993 to cover Long Island...
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STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The said it was like napalm exploding in a flash.

Several fires are raising questions about the safety of firepots, meant to light up backyards and keep mosquitoes away. CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan spoke with one Long Island victim’s heartbroken family on Monday.

Nancy Reyer has slept the last 16 days at her critically burned son’s hospital bedside as Michael Hubbard, struggles to stay alive in Stony Brook University’s pediatric intensive care unit. The 14-year-old’s lungs and kidneys are near failure.

“If you want to go with the angels go with the angels and be with God, or if you want to stay, please stay and be here with mommy and we will fight ‘til the end,” Nancy Reyer said crying.

A photo of Michael was taken shortly before the fireball covered his body. He was preparing for a wedding reception in a cousin’s back yard when fuel gel poured into a wickless ceramic firepot suddenly exploded. Witnesses said the entire quart jar turned into a lethal weapon. Firepots and liquid gel are relatively new products and are widely sold at home and garden stores, labeled as “safe.”

“It’s a bomb. A bomb in a bottle,” Reyer said.

“The gel, it appears basically stuck to his skin and even after the flames were out the gel continued to cause ongoing damage, until he was decontaminated at the scene from the gel,” Dr. Kimberly Fenton said.

Napa Home and Garden of Georgia, the company that manufactured the firepot Michael’s family bought, was shocked to learn that there have been 10 recent complaints of serious burns. The company is now ordering its retailers to temporarily pull the product while urging consumers to read warning labels.

“Although we feel our product is safe when used correctly, because of these recent events, we feel it is necessary that we reaffirm the safety of our products,” the company said in a statement.

“I just want my child back. That’s all,” Reyer said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating. There could soon be a nationwide ban or recall on all fire-gel products.

Fuel gel firepots carry warnings not to refill them if they are still lighted, or even hot, but those labels are small stickers on part of the pot’s packaging, meant to be thrown away.

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