Bug-Control Gel Explodes; Woman Sues

Company Issues Precautionary Sales Hold Of Citronella Gel

Published On: Oct 19 2011 04:25:12 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 20 2011 07:40:35 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

An Ortega woman trying to protect herself from bugs was badly burned when a burning citronella gel allegedly exploded on her.

Missy Boney said she suffered second- and third-degree burns and her porch went up in flames on April 15 as she was sitting on her porch talking to her sister on the phone. She said the product -- NAPAfire Citronella Pourable Eco-Gel Fuel -- blew up.

"I just heard this bomb-like explosion. It was so startling," Boney said. "I was like, 'What just happened?' kind of thing, and I looked around, and before I realized I was on fire, I realized my furniture was all on fire."

Boney blames the explosion on the manufacturer, NAPA Home and Garden, and is suing for damages.

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"It was a nice night. It was kind of breezy," Boney said. "And I was like, 'Gosh, it's kind of buggy. If I'm going to sit out here and talk to her, I'm going to light that candle.'"

Boney said the ceramic pot on her table was cold because she hadn't used it in a while. She poured the ceramic gel into the pot and then placed it to the side. She lit it with a lighter, then turned her back to sit down in a chair. Within seconds, the gel allegedly exploded.

She was hospitalized for 10 days, had 150 staples and three large skin grafts. She faces still more surgery.

"The worst part right now is my nerve endings. I constantly get a burning sensation," Boney said.

Boney's lawyer said there have been at least eight similar explosions of the citronella gel across the country. Boney said she wants this off the market immediately.

One week ago, NAPA Home & Garden released a precautionary sales hold on its gel burners and gel fuel.

A statement on its website says, in part, "The Consumer Product Safety Commission staff initiated an investigation last week into serious burn incidents apparently related to gel fuel used in firepots. While CPSC's investigation is still open and active, consumers should be aware of the burn and poisoning hazards that can occur from using illuminating fuels in firepots, tiki torches and other consumer products."