Burn victim receives millions in Ecoflame settlement - KPTV - FOX 12

Burn victim receives millions in Ecoflame settlement

Posted: Updated: May 13, 2013 10:53 PM
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

The label claims to be non-explosive, but the burn scars that cover the body of a Salem woman tell a different story.

Lillis Larson has just settled a lawsuit against Ecoflame - a company that makes bottles of gel fuel for portable warming devices.

The trial was supposed to start Monday in Marion County Circuit Court.

It has been a long road to recovery for Larson.

Nearly 4 years ago, the retired teacher was volunteering at a food booth at a church event when she became the victim of an explosion.

Another volunteer was refilling the cans underneath the chafing dish when the bottle of Ecoflame fuel gel caught fire and exploded.

"I just heard the noise and turned and this napalm-like stuff on fire hit me all over my body," Larson said.

An entire third of Larson's body was on fire and nothing could put it out.

Witnesses put water and ice on her and she even dropped and rolled, but her body continued burning.

It wasn't until EMTs used a fire extinguisher that the flames went out.

But the damage was done.

"I wanted to die a couple times. It was that bad," Larson said.

She was covered in painful second and third degree burns.

She spent five weeks in the hospital where doctors had to remove the skin from her thighs for multiple skin grafts on her torso and arm.

Larson's lawyer Carl Amala says this could've been prevented.

Other fuel gel brands use flame arresters to keep flames and sparks from entering the bottle.

Had this small piece of plastic been put on the Ecoflame bottle, he said the explosion would've never happened.

"This was clearly a case where you had a company that was clearly more concerned with profits than safety," Amala said.

What's more—the label on the Ecoflame bottle clearly reads "non-explosive."

"I couldn't believe it.  It was worse than false advertising.  It was blatant misrepresentation," Larson said.

When Larson sued Ecoflame, they settled, awarding her $2 million.   

But Amala said the bottles could still be on store shelves across the country, meaning others could be in danger.

"It has always been about it's not right. It's not right that this product be out there and misrepresenting itself," Larson said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is now looking into industry-wide regulation to make sure all gel fuels are safe.

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