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Firepot Explosion Leads To Fuel Gel Ban In Suffolk County

Mother Of 14-Year-Old Critically Injured In Explosion Spurs Legislators To Act
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Firepot

A backyard firepot (credit: CBS 2)

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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County legislators have voted to ban the sale of an ethanol- or alcohol-based fuel gel after a teenager was badly burned two months ago.

Michael Hubbard has third-degree burns after a flash explosion splattered him with fuel gel from a ceramic pot. CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano reports on his mother’s fight to save other children from a similar fate.

“Lit the candle, didn’t think nothing of it. It didn’t look like it was lit, pour more fuel in it and boom, my son goes on,” Nancy Reyer said.

A day doesn’t go by that Reyer doesn’t relive her real-life nightmare.

On May 28, while getting ready for a wedding reception in a cousin’s yard, her 14-year-old son was critically burned when fuel gel, poured into a wickless ceramic firepot by someone other than Michael, exploded.

Michael’s mother said it was during re-fueling when the explosion happened and it caught her son off-guard.

On Tuesday, Mercogliano visited Michael at Stony Brook Hospital and saw that his eyes were open, but, according to his mother, he hasn’t been able to speak since the explosion. He is being treated for burns and brain injuries.

While taking caring of her injured son, Reyer has also been working with Suffolk County legislators in trying to change the law in an effort to prevent this from happening again.

And on Tuesday in Riverhead, there was no argument from legislators. A bill named for Michael Hubbard — “Michael’s Law” — passed unanimously. The bill will ban the sale of ethanol- or alcohol-based FireGel in Suffolk County – the type of fuel gel behind Michael’s injuries.

“Our hearts go out to Nancy, to the family. We just hope it doesn’t happen again,” Suffolk Legislator Ed Romaine said.

After the vote Reyer headed back to the hospital to be with her son. Ironically, on the day a bill in honor of Michael was passed, he also turned 15.

“I will tell him when we go there today to celebrate his birthday, but I won’t get a response,” Reyer said.

She may not get a response, but she said she knows Michael will be listening.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it’s investigating the type of firepot involved in Michael Hubbard’s case. The company that makes the firepot told its retailers to temporarily pull it off shelves while urging consumers to read warning labels.

A call to the company on Tuesday was not returned.

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