EXCLUSIVE: Long Island Teen Critically Burned In Firepot Explosion Making Progress

Michael Hubbard's Harrowing Experience Taught Everyone A Less, Saved Lives

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Michael Hubbard was critically burned nine months ago when jelly-like citronella fuel was poured into a firepot as his family prepared for a backyard wedding reception. The incident even sent him into cardiac arrest.

But he chose to fight.

“I just saw an explosion and the whole gazebo went up in flames and set Michael on fire. I was going crazy trying to get Michael, the flame off him, yelling and screaming,” Nancy Reyer, Michael’s mother, told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

The napalm-like substance exploded, sticking to Michael’s skin and clothing and kept burning. Doctors at Stony Brook told his mother that he had been deprived of oxygen for 13 minutes and was clinging to life.


A backyard firepot (credit: CBS 2)

“I did go in and tell him after his cardiac arrest, ‘If you want to go with the angels, mommy’s here, and I’m OK, but if you want to stay and fight, I’ll fight to the end with you,'” Reyer told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

After numerous skin grafts and surgeries, he can now raise his head, control his feet, unclench his hands, and even speak a bit.

Reyer moved into the rehab center at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, never leaving Michael’s side. His Riverhead High School classmates and teachers visit with cards and letters.

“On our journey, which has been nine months now, my community has been overwhelming with love and support,” Reyer said.

Michael has always been deeply religious, and it is his faith that is pulling him through, his mom said.

“This right here is my gift from God and I’m going to be here until the end, until we walk out of here,” she said.

Following Michael’s accident, Suffolk County legislators passed a law banning the fuel gel and firepots from store shelves.

“Suffolk County led the way with what we call ‘Michael’s Law,’ in honor of Michael Hubbard. And the law passed on his 15th birthday,” Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission also announced a nationwide recall of the fuel-gel candles, blamed for a number of similar accidents across the country.

So as Hubbard fights to recover, his family says he is already saving lives since no one else will be subjected to the same tragedy.

The only way to put out a fuel gel fire is with a fire extinguisher. Even though the products have been recalled and are no longer sold, Michael’s family is warning people who may still have them in their homes about the dangers.

Please leave a comment below…

  • Rashad Tyreek Dobrolski

    Michael is my brother

  • Nancy Reyer

    thank you all for your thoughts and prayers our address is

    michael hubbard
    nancy reyer
    PO box 2162
    Aquebogue NY 11931
    michael also has caringbridge.org/visit/michaelhubbard16 if you would like to follow or sign his guest book God Bless and thanks you

  • mara

    My brother Michael was an inpatient in Blythedale for an entire year. Michael Hubbard’s story is so eerily similar to my brother’s…the cause of the injuries are different but the struggle to survive is the same. My mom was in Nancy’s shoes…she literally lived by Michael’s bedside. While she had a place to stay on the hospital grounds thanks to the Ronald McDonald house, she spent her days and nights on the fold out chair next to his bed. The fight is long and hard. Very long and very hard….but believe me when I tell you, miracels happen everyday. My brother, while not “100%” is living, breathing proof that your Michael can come out of this. I keep you guys so close to my heart because my family has walked in your shoes. You are a remarkable woman Nancy…and Michael is feeding off of that strength…you are as vital to his recovery as any doctor or nurse. I beleive that with all my heart and soul because when the doctor’s asked my mother to donate our Michel’s organs, she stood firm and fought for him and because of that he is walking, talking and living a pretty normal life. When your Michael is up to it, I would love for him to meet my brother and see what is possible for him as long as he contiunes to fight. All my love to the whole family.

    • Nancy Reyer

      thanks so much you can share in our journey at caringbridge.org/visit/michaelhubbard16 thanks so much for your kind words and God Bless your family as well Love nancy reyer

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  • pjr

    Hope you do well Michael. : )

  • Peter Rubin

    I was touched watching this story tonight. I will be praying for this brave young man and his family. If CBS 2 could possibly send those who would like to send Michael a gift or card a means to do so that would be greatly appreciated.

    • Fran Reyer Johnson

      Hi Mr. Rubin,
      This is my sister and Nephew. I make a trip up to Blydesdale weekly so if you want to sent a card to me I will make sure they receive it. Thanks for the prays.

      Michael Hubbard/Nancy Reyer
      C/O Fran Reyer Johnson
      81 Rabbit Run
      Riverhead, NY 11901

  • yolanda

    what an inspiration to everyone. i pray that he makes a full and speedy recovery

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