The Coast News Group
News Rancho Santa Fe

Experts warns against use of gel fuels

COAST CITIES — The Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach Fire Departments and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District have posted a warning about pourable gel fuels.The report urges the public to do away with using pourable gel fuels in decorative firepots or lanterns, and to exercise extreme caution when handling other types of flammable liquids. Such fuels are extremely flammable and explosive, posing a serious risk of flash fires, burns, serious injury, and possibly death.

Earlier this month, an incident involving liquid fuel in Del Mar sent three people to the hospital with one victim sustaining second and third degree burns over 50 percent of his body. As of Sept. 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had been made aware of 65 incidents involving pourable gel fuel, including 34 hospitalizations and two deaths.

“There are several factors that make gel fuel particularly dangerous,” said Rancho Santa Fe Fire Chief Tony Michel. “First, the flame it produces is often blue or clear, appearing as though the flame has gone out when it is still burning. Second, the fuel is a liquid, so it is easily spilled when knocked over, spreading flames as it goes. Finally, stop, drop, and roll has proven to not be very effective in extinguishing the flames and the gel is hard to remove, causing critical burns to victims.”

More information can be found on the Encinitas Fire Department and
Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District’s web sites.