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Fuel gel accidents prompt Ill. AG to act
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RACINE - A Racine manufacturer of fuel gels is pushing back against Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who earlier this week called on federal officials to immediately recall the products, citing a number of burn-related accidents.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan Wednesday called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to immediately recall all fuel gel products in response to reports of at least three fuel gel-related accidents in Illinois, and dozens of other injuries that have been reported around the country. Fuel gel is poured into a firepot or similar vessel for use as a decorative flame or outdoor light.

"When the gel contacts a person's skin, it reacts similarly to napalm, making it nearly impossible to extinguish," she said in a statement. "Victims and witnesses indicate that traditional ways to put out a flame, such as dropping and rolling, don't work.

Madigan's efforts have been focused on Michigan-based manufacturer, BirdBrain, but RealFlame of Racine, which makes similar products, said its gel fuel is safe.

RealFlame Vice President John Ridgeway on Friday said its company has been manufacturing gel fuels for two decades with no reported burn accidents, and that it is cooperating with the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to promote safety.

"RealFlame understands (Madigan's) reaction, and is saddened that people have been injured as a result of gel fuel products," Ridgeway said in a statement.

Madigan added that in the Chicago suburbs last year, a 3-year-old girl was critically injured when a firepot containing fuel gel manufactured by BirdBrain Inc. spilled, causing severe burns.