Company pulls firepots that burned LI boy

Nancy Reyer, whose, son, Michael Hubbard, was badly burned by a firepot explosion, says he is a fighter and that explosives should be taken off the shelves. Videojournalist: Joseph D. Sullivan (June 13, 2011)

A Georgia manufacturer of gel-fueled burners and firepots Monday halted sales of the products after reports of serious injuries, the company's owner said.

Napa owners Jerry Cunningham and his wife, KC, said in a statement they made the move in the wake of several accidents involving people using the trendy decorative ceramic pots.

"We have sold tens of thousands of Fire Burners and fuel during the last two years and have always considered them safe products," Jerry Cunningham said in the statement, adding that the company would be investigating. Its website contains prominent safety warnings, such as not adding fuel when the pot is hot and keeping it away from children.

The action from Napa Home & Garden Inc. of Duluth, Ga., comes nearly two weeks after a Riverhead youth was burned when a Napa firepot exploded as it was lit by his cousin.

Michael Hubbard, 14, remains in an induced coma -- with third-degree burns across his body -- in the pediatric intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center. He was injured May 28.

At a news conference at the center Monday, Dr. Kimberly Fenton said, "He's fighting for his life and he's critically ill." She said she was "cautiously optimistic" about his condition.

Fenton said doctors were beginning the process of waking him up by weaning off drugs that have kept him in a coma. She said the boy will need skin grafts and rehabilitation.

"He's a tough, strong kid, and working with his mom has been wonderful," she said, referring to Nancy Reyer.

Reyer said Monday she was relieved to hear Napa had halted firepot sales.

"That's beautiful," she said. "My sister felt guilty about buying it and she said if she could do anything in Michael's name to make this better, it's to get this product off the market."

The family's attorney, John J. Napolitano, said he is preparing to sue the firepot's manufacturers and stores selling it. "This product is defective, and somebody is going to pay for this," he said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating eight similar complaints involving firepots since April 2010, a spokesman has confirmed.

Jerry Cunningham said in the statement: "To date, we have been relying on the guidance of our fuel supplier to create the safety directions on our packaging, warning labels and care and use instructions. But we always place the safety of our consumers first and foremost. Although we feel our product is safe when used correctly, because of these recent events, KC and I feel it is necessary that we reaffirm the safety of our products."

With Gary Dymski

and Paul LaRocco

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