'Bomb-like' candle gel severely burns 33-year-old woman

Lawsuit filed against manufacturer, retailer


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Pretty packages with horrific consequences -- that's what the parents of a Westside woman are calling a bottle of candle gel that severely burned their daughter last month.

About 39,000 bottles of Marshall Gardens PatioGlo Bio-Fuel Gel were recalled in October 2011, but Channel 4 discovered there are still bottles on store shelves in Jacksonville.

Curry Pajcic, attorney for 33-year-old Mandy Plato, says the candle gel is like napalm in a bottle that left his client with second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of her body.

"It's go no business out there," Bill Plato, Mandy's father, said.

Mandy Plato suffered burns over 40 percent of her body.
Mandy Plato suffered burns over 40 percent of her body.

He said it was a like a bomb exploded. After a quick flash, his daughter's skin was burning from her head to her toes.

"I think they should take this stuff off the market immediately. It's like a bomb," Bill Plato said.

Mandy suffered burns over 40 percent of her body. She has undergone six surgeries and spent more than a month in the intensive care unit at Shands Hospital in Gainesville after being slathered with the scorching jelly-like substance.

"She opened the cap and poured the fuel gel into the empty pot," Pajcic said. "And at that time, it was like a napalm bomb went off. The vapors flashed back into the bottle, exploded and spewed the fiery napalm-like gel all over her daughter."

Charred remnants are what's left of Mandy's shirt, shorts, shoes and bra from that day. The flammable gel sprayed so far that it even incinerated her patio furniture.

Pajcic said Mandy bought the candle gel from Sundrez at The Jacksonville Landing. A recall was put in place in October 2011 both by the manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, Channel 4's Adrienne Moore purchased a bottle of the gel Friday at the same store for $13.

"I think she remembers more than I'd like her to, even though the doctors tell us she won't remember this," said Maureen Plato, Mandy's mother.

With a lawsuit now filed against the manufacturer and the retailer, Plato's attorney has this warning for consumers.

"You may have a napalm bomb under your Christmas tree. Get rid of it. We don't want this to ever happen to someone again," Pajcic said.

Marshall Group President David Schemenauer released this statement to Channel 4:

"Courtesy of your help, we have been made aware that one retailer did still have old stock that was not returned as part of the recall. The retailer has been notified and all stock was immediately pulled from the shelves. In addition, we have confirmed with the three other retailers who carried our product in the N. Florida/Jacksonville area that no other Patio Glo bio ethanol fire gel is or has been on sale for an extended period."

"Regardless of whether we find out if it is our product or not, our hearts and prayers go out to anyone hurt in any way during this holiday season."

As for Mandy Plato, it's still unclear when she'll be released from the hospital.